What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

January 6, 2010

Scientists have identified a cluster of conditions linked to excess weight and obesity that often occur together and greatly increase an individual’s risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and diabetes. Called “metabolic syndrome,” it is becoming more and more common in the United States.

“Insulin resistance is a primary feature of metabolic syndrome,” said Dr. Raza. “Other hallmarks of the syndrome include pre-diabetes or diabetes, high blood pressure, and disorders of the lipids, or fats, in the blood. Individually, any of these create added risk for heart attack and stroke. Taken together, they constitute a severe threat to cardiovascular health.”

The distribution of fat in the body is also an indication of metabolic syndrome. As Dr. Raza explained, “In general, excess fat that is deposited around the waist and abdominal wall indicates a greater risk than fat in the hip and thigh area.”

Recognize the Symptoms

Metabolic syndrome develops over time. It is important to recognize it and begin treatment before it leads to serious problems. Here are the symptoms:

  • High blood pressure
  • High triglycerides
  • Insulin resistance
  • Low HDL, or “good” cholesterol
  • Extra weight around your waist. This is sometimes described as an “apple” shape, as opposed to a “pear” shape.

Treatments usually include lifestyle modification such as dieting and exercise, and may include medications to help reduce blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and blood sugar.

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