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Metabolic Syndrome: What Is It, And Are You At Risk?
October 24, 2019

Excess belly fat. High blood pressure. Low good cholesterol. High triglycerides. High blood sugar. 

Having any of these conditions could be a cause for concern. If you have several of them, you might have Metabolic Syndrome, which can cause blockages in the heart and blood vessels. 

Having any of these conditions could be a cause for concern. If you have at least three of the following five conditions, you have Metabolic Syndrome: 

  1. Waist circumference greater than 40 inches in men or greater than 35 inches in women (“Apple” body shape).
  2. Triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or higher.
  3. HDL (healthy) cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL for men or less than 50 mg/dL in women (low good cholesterol).
  4. Blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or more (top-systolic) or 85 mm Hg or more (bottom-diastolic) or higher.
  5. Fasting blood glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater.

A Growing Concern

As Americans’ waistlines expand, this condition and the complications it can cause have become commonplace in the news, and for good reason. Metabolic Syndrome increases your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and problems within the arteries and veins in your legs, neck, arms and kidneys. 

It has been estimated that one-quarter of all Americans suffer from Metabolic Syndrome. Are you one of them? 


What are the risk factors and how is it caused?

Being overweight or obese, particularly with excess fat in the abdomen, increases your risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome. The risk also rises with increasing age, if you had diabetes during pregnancy or have a family history of type 2 diabetes. 

Metabolic Syndrome is often associated with a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas which helps glucose enter your cells so it can be utilized as fuel. In people with insulin resistance, cells don’t respond normally to insulin. Thus glucose cannot easily enter cells in spite of the having high blood sugars and more insulin.


How is Metabolic Syndrome diagnosed? 

Your doctor can diagnose Metabolic Syndrome during an office visit by a history and physical exam and after reviewing the results of blood tests. If you are found to have it, your doctor will discuss what you can do to treat it. 


What should you do if you have Metabolic Syndrome?

“The first step you can take to treat Metabolic Syndrome, or reduce your risk for it, is by practicing or increasing healthy behaviors,” says vascular surgeon Khurram Rasheed, MD, of St. Luke’s Heart and Vascular Center, who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the peripheral vascular system. 


“Getting regular exercise, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low in salt, sugar and fat, stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are critical to vascular health. Medicines may  be prescribed to help you reach your glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol goals.” 


If you think you might have Metabolic Syndrome, click here to make an appointment with a vascular surgeon at the St. Luke’s Heart and Vascular Center within one day…guaranteed.

See a cardiologist within one business day at St. Luke's University Health Network's Heart and Vascular center.