Metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition that few people are aware of. The syndrome consists of a cluster of illnesses that includes obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol. Triggers that cause metabolic syndrome are poor diet leading to obesity, especially in the abdomen area. In turn, the abdominal fat secretes stress hormones that raise your blood pressure, blood glucose levels and levels of LDL [“bad”] cholesterol.
Indeed, all of these conditions are related — and unfortunately millions of Americans suffer from this syndrome. For example, there is a very strong link between Type-2 diabetes and heart disease, to the point where doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are suggesting the creation of a new medical specialty: Cardiabetes.
Metabolic Syndrome: Statistics
Thirty three percent of Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome. Senior citizens over the age of 60 and older are most vulnerable.
The reason seniors are more prone to this cluster of diseases is because they’re more prone to weight gain and hypertension. From there it’s just a short step to also developing type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you need to have at least two of these five risk factors:
- A waist size greater than 40 inches in men, and 35 inches in women.
- Abnormal blood sugar levels. You don’t have to have full-blown type 2 diabetes, but you may be in the prediabetes stage. That’s a fasting blood sugar greater than or equal to 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or a hemoglobin A1C level that’s at least 5.7 percent.
- High blood pressure (anything above 130/85)
- Elevated triglycerides (greater than or equal to 150 mg/dL)
- Low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, or less than 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women.
Here is what you could be looking at if you develop metabolic syndrome due to poor diet, obesity, sleep deprivation, and lack of exercise.
Metabolic Syndrome: Type 2 diabetes
People with metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop a condition known as insulin resistance, in which your body’s cells don’t respond normally to the hormone insulin. This means glucose can’t enter your cells as easily, so your blood sugar rises. Over time, that can lead to type 2 diabetes. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology found that people with just two risk factors for metabolic syndrome were over four times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes over a five-year period, while people with four risk factors were about 10 times more likely.
Untreated or poorly controlled high cholesterol and blood pressure can lead to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. As a result, people with metabolic syndrome are three times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack than those who don’t have it, according to the American College of Cardiology.