A person has Metabolic Syndrome when they have a combination of 3 or more specific health risks. These health risks include:
High blood pressure.
High blood sugar.
Excess body weight. Low levels of "good" cholesterol.
A high level of triglycerides (type of fat circulating in the blood).
Each of these factors can increase the risk of getting diabetes, heart disease or stroke. However, the risk is greatly increased when these risks are combined.
Approximately one quarter of the Canadian population has this condition. This rate is higher for certain groups of people, such as those belonging to First Nations and those of South Asian descent. They have higher rates of metabolic syndrome than Caucasians.
Other important risk factors that may predispose to the metabolic syndrome include:
Age (the risk of having the metabolic syndrome increases with age).
Family history of type 2 diabetes.
The presence of other medical conditions, including: high blood pressure, heart or blood vessel disease , and polycystic ovary syndrome (a condition in which women's bodies produce too much male hormones).
Symptoms and Complications
In general, few people have remarkable signs or symptoms. However, the main features of the metabolic syndrome are:
Excess body weight (usually around the stomach).
High blood pressure. Low levels of good cholesterol in the blood.
A high level of triglycerides (fat) in the blood.
Insulin resistance (high blood sugar level).
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will probably ask you questions about your medical history; he will give you a physical examination and blood tests.
If you have three of the following health risks, it is likely that you have Metabolic Syndrome:
Excess body weight (waist circumference greater than 102 cm for men and greater than 89 cm for women).
High blood pressure (greater than 130/85 mmHg).
A level of triglycerides (fat circulating in the blood) greater than 1.7 mmol / L.
Low levels of good (HDL) cholesterol (less than 1.03 mmol / L for men and 1.29 mmol / L for women) Fasting blood glucose (blood glucose level) higher than 5.6 mmol / L.
If changes to your lifestyle are not enough to reduce your health risk, your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following:
Drugs to make you lose weight.
Insulin sensitizers (metformin, rosiglitazone) to help reduce blood glucose and insulin levels.
Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Medicines to lower blood pressure.
Medicines to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL).
A healthy lifestyle may weaken your ability to eventually acquire the risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome. Effective prevention includes healthy menus based on Canada's Food Guide and exercises for 150 minutes each week. Visiting your doctor for regular checkups will monitor your glucose levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and general health.