Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that increase a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease.
“It is important for people to learn about metabolic syndrome and how it puts them at high risk for heart attack and stroke,” said Dr. Daniela Huerta de Hathaway, an internal medicine physician with Centegra Physician Care.
To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a person must have three of the following conditions:
- Increased waist circumference
- Fasting glucose levels that are higher than 110
- Blood pressure that is greater than 135/85 before medication
- Increased triglycerides
- Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
A vicious cycle
When a person has metabolic syndrome, the body is stuck in a cycle of insulin resistance and weight gain. It is a process that is hard to break. First, obesity causes insulin resistance. Then, the body produces more insulin to break down carbohydrates. Since insulin is a fat storage hormone, it promotes the production of fat. This cycle continues to repeat itself.
“Many people with metabolic syndrome can remember a time when they rapidly put on 20 or 30 pounds in a year,” Huerta de Hathaway said. “Once a person has metabolic syndrome, it’s very difficult to lose the weight without seriously addressing his or her diet and cholesterol.”
Break the cycle
It is important that doctors identify people who have metabolic syndrome so they can address their health conditions and lower their risks for heart attacks, stroke and diabetes. Huerta de Hathaway first helps patients understand weight-loss options such as diet and exercise. She also treats high triglycerides with medication.
“People who want to cure metabolic syndrome must be completely committed to changing their lifestyles,” Huerta de Hathaway said. “If they stick to it 100 percent, they will be thrilled with the health benefits.”