Q&A: The scoop on metabolic syndrome
What raises the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes in 1 of every 4 Americans? The answer is metabolic syndrome.
Ashley J. Miller, DO, a family physician with Nazareth Hospital, explains this syndrome—and how to protect your health.
Q: What is metabolic syndrome?
“It’s a group of five risk factors that often go hand in hand,” Dr. Miller says. Those risk factors are:
- A large waist
- High triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood)
- Low HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
- High blood pressure (130/85 mm Hg or higher)
- High blood sugar
Having two or more of these may mean you have metabolic syndrome. But most of these risk factors are invisible—and may not make you feel sick. That’s one reason Dr. Miller recommends regular preventive checkups with a doctor.
Q: Who can get metabolic syndrome?
You’re at higher risk if you:
- Are overweight or obese
- Don’t exercise enough
- Have a family history of it
- Eat a diet high in meat or sugar
Of these, the two biggest risk factors are being overweight and being inactive.
Q: How can I prevent it?
Maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise is key. That’s also the first thing doctors will recommend if you already have metabolic syndrome. “Losing just 5 or 10 pounds can drastically bring down blood pressure and blood sugar,” Dr. Miller says.
The cause of metabolic syndrome can be different for each person. Work with your provider to find the prevention or treatment plan that’s best for you.