What is Metabolic Syndrome?

2014-06-21_15-14-28Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that increases your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.
Below are five metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors, but they usually occur together. If you have three metabolic risk factors, you will be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.


  • A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or having an “apple” shape. Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips. The health risk is considered high when waist circumference is greater than or equal to 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
  • A high triglyceride level (or being on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. A triglyceride level 200 and higher is considered a high.
  • A low HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol level (or being on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL often called “good” cholesterol because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease. An HDL level 60 or below is considered a low level.
  • High blood pressure (or being on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup. Systolic blood pressure of 140 or greater OR diastolic blood pressure of 90 or greater on two separate occasions is considered high.
  • High fasting blood sugar (or being on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes. Fasting blood glucose of 100 or greater is considered high.

Your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke increases with the number of metabolic risk factors you have. In general, a person who has metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who does not have metabolic syndrome.

Additional risk factors such as high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level (equal or greater than 130) and smoking are major risk factors for heart disease, but they are not part of metabolic syndrome.

The risk of having metabolic syndrome is closely associated to being overweight (BMI 25-30) or obese (BMI 30 or greater) and a sedentary lifestyle. Insulin resistance also may increase your risk for metabolic syndrome.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body cannot use its insulin properly. Insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar levels, and it too is closely linked to overweight and obesity.

Genetics (ethnicity and family history) and older age are other factors that may play a role in causing metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is becoming more and more common due to a rise in obesity rates. In the future, metabolic syndrome may overtake smoking as the leading risk factor for heart disease.

It is possible to prevent or delay metabolic syndrome, mainly with lifestyle changes. A healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment.
For additional information about Metabolic Syndrome or Weight Management and Lifestyle Changes contact Janet Hunt, certified Personal Trainer at 256-614-3530 or visit her website at www.janetsfitnessindustries.com
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.