What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Discover how to reduce your midlife risk for this precursor to diabetes and heart disease and stroke
Given that this condition impacts 35% of all adults (and risk increases with age) and is considered an indicator of potential type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk, everyone in midlife should learn more about it.
Especially since it’s preventable and treatable.
With the rise in obesity rates among middle age people, diagnosis of metabolic syndrome has risen within our age group. So much so, that medical authorities feel that this condition could overtake smoking as a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Videos on Metabolic Syndrome
Before learning about metabolic syndrome, understanding how our metabolism works is helpful.
Carbs, Glucose and Our Metabolism: A System that Keeps Us Moving
Metabolism is something we’re all concerned about, especially with our midlife health as it tends to slow down as we age. Metabolism helps the body burn nutrients, including sugar, for fuel.
When we digest carbohydrates, it gets broken down into glucose, which is a simple sugar. That glucose is picked up by insulin and transported to the cells of our body for energy.
Metabolism, glucose and carbs work together, fueling our bodies so that we can stroll the malls for holiday shopping, play catch with our kids and run after your dog in your PJs after he darts out of the house first thing in the morning. And other activities we enjoy with a health midlife.
When That System Breaks Down
With metabolic syndrome, something goes wrong. Insulin either does not transport glucose, or the cells don’t welcome that glucose when it’s delivered. This results in way too much sugar in the blood. And that creates a dangerous situation for the body.
Metabolic syndrome is also called insulin resistance syndrome. And if you are insulin resistant, you are at risk for diabetes Type 2, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Combine insulin resistance with other risk factors and you may develop metabolic syndrome.
So, what are those other risk factors?
Besides high blood sugar, other risk factors include:
- A large waistline
- High blood pressure
- High triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood)
- Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
Diagnosing Metabolic Syndrome
Since metabolic syndrome is a actually a cluster of factors, your physician will have to conduct a variety of simple tests to determine if you’re at risk.
- Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation to determine if you’re overweight, obese or morbidly obese (waist circumference for men: greater than 40 inches; for women: greater than 35 inches)
- Blood pressure to determine if you’re more than 130/85
- Cholesterol test to determine HDL levels (Men: less than 40 mg/dL; Women: less than 50 mg/dL)
- Blood test to determine if your fasting glucose is greater than 100 mg/dL
Preventing Metabolic Syndrome
The tests listed above provide clues on how to prevent or treat metabolic syndrome. They include:
Maintain a healthy weight:Reduce your BMI to healthy levels. You can use the calculator below to estimate your BMI. A healthy BMI levels are between 18.5 to 24.9. You can calculate your BMI at the National Heart and Blood Institute.
Get fit and exercise regularly:Fitness over 40 is essential to maintain the your body’s strength and energy as it ages. 30 minutes a day can bring significant benefits. It can help slow down the aging process and keep our metabolism up. Which helps burn calories and keeps our pants from getting too tight.
Be sure to get screened:Knowledge empowers you to take the right course of action for your health. Find out your current your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar numbers. A complete medical assessment will let you know if you’re at risk of metabolic syndrome. If so, your health care provider will advise you of your degree of risk for diabetes Type 2.
Since susceptibility to many of these factors can increase through the aging process, it’s important for those of us in middle age to be aware of the risk. Type 2 diabetes can cause severe issues as we move into our senior years, like eye problems, nerve damage, slow healing of wounds, amputations, and peripheral artery disease.
Other Web resources on Metabolic Syndrome to check out:
American Heart Association: This site provides several pages about this condition from symptoms to prevention.