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What You Need to Know About Metabolic Syndrome

Each of the conditions listed below can elevate your risk for diabetes, heart attack or stroke. When you have three or more of these conditions at the same time, you have metabolic syndrome:

  • Waist circumference higher than 40 inches in men; 35 inches in women
  • Triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or higher
  • HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL in men; 50 mg/dL in women
  • Blood pressure higher than 130/85
  • Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or higher

What does metabolic syndrome mean for my health?
People with metabolic syndrome are:

  • Five times more likely to have type 2 diabetes
  • Two times more likely to have heart disease
  • Two to four times more likely to have a stroke
  • Three to four times more likely to have a heart attack

What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?
Most of the conditions that lead to metabolic syndrome have no noticeable symptoms, so you may not realize you have them. That’s why it is important to have your annual physical, so your doctor can collect all of these biometric measurements.

Can I prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome?
A healthy lifestyle can help prevent the conditions that lead to metabolic syndrome, or improve your numbers if you have it. You should:

  • Eat a diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.
  • Replace saturated fats (butter, margarine) with unsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil).
  • Minimize your intake of refined (white) flour, sugar and pasta.
  • Aim for 30 minutes per day, five days per week of aerobic exercise (walking, running, biking or dancing).
  • Have your numbers checked once a year, or as recommended by your doctor.
  • Take all medicines as prescribed. Never stop taking medicine without your doctor’s approval.

Sources: American Heart Association; Krames on Demand.