What is metabolic syndrome?

Neha Shah, M.D., who specializes in bariatric & obesity medicine and internal medicine at Edwards-Elmhurst Health share that if you carry a lot of weight around your waist, you’re boosting your risk for heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure or diabetes you are also at a higher risk.

When you have all three, you have what we call metabolic syndrome.

A metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase your chance of developing certain conditions. It’s not a disease in itself but describes the condition of having symptoms that could spur serious disease—such as heart attacks and stroke—down the road.

There are some things that put you at risk for metabolic syndrome (and, thus, a higher risk for future heart disease, diabetes or stroke). The more of these you have, the higher your risk:

  • You’re shaped like an apple. Abdominal obesity, or 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.
  • You have high triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. Having high triglycerides can increase heart disease risk.
  • Your “good” cholesterol is low. HDL cholesterol helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. When HDL levels are low, it can increase the risk of heart disease.
  • You have high blood pressure. If your blood pressure remains high, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup.
  • You have diabetes. Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes. Having diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

You can do something to prevent metabolic syndrome, or reduce the complications associated with it. Losing weight (even a modest amount of weight) can greatly reduce the risk factors that combine to form metabolic syndrome, improving health and well-being.

Try adopting a heart-healthy diet (of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish) and getting regular exercise— it can help cut a number of risk factors and keep you healthier for years to come.

As always, check in with your doctor regularly. Your doctor can monitor your well-being over the long term and provide advice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Ask your doctor whether a referral to Endeavor Health Weight Management would be appropriate to assist you in reaching your healthy weight goal. We use a comprehensive, team-based approach to weight management and lifestyle support.

Neha Shah, M.D., is board certified in internal and obesity medicine and with Endeavor Health Weight Management.

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