Syndrome X: Are You at Risk for Metabolic syndrome?

Syndrome X: Are You at Risk for Metabolic syndrome?

 Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X (sounds like a spy movie villain, right?), refers to a collection of risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease that includes abdominal obesity (belly fat), high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, and high triglycerides (another type of blood fat). The term "metabolic" refers to the natural processes involved in the body's normal functioning.

Like its villainous sounding name, Syndrome X can be a dangerous risk factor for other chronic conditions. Metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition that raises your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It is known to be associated with brain changes and mental deficits in adults and teens. More than 3 million U.S. cases are diagnosed each year, but the good news is it can be preventable and treatable. You are more likely to have metabolic syndrome if you are overweight or don’t get enough exercise.

People who have metabolic syndrome often have one or more other factors that may be linked with the condition, including:

  • Increased risk of blood clotting
  • Increased levels of blood substances that are a sign of inflammation throughout the body
  • Small amounts of a protein called albumin in the urine

Do the Math
There are five risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease. These risk factors are related to excess abdominal weight or problems metabolizing fat and sugar in your diet. While having any of the risk factors can mean trouble for your health, you need to have three or more to meet the definition of metabolic syndrome. If you’re not sure what any of your numbers are, ask your doctor.

Print this article, and check each risk factor that you have to take in with you:

Risk Management
If you meet the definition of metabolic syndrome or have any of these risk factors, remember that certain risk factors are inherited and others can be changed by making healthy choices. Talk to your doctor and begin to take the following steps to protect your health.

  • Lose weight. Losing just 3 to 5 percent of your current weight can make a difference; losing more weight can help reduce all five risk factors.
  • Eat a heart healthy diet. Ask your doctor to recommend a heart-healthy diet . You can start by limiting or avoiding saturated or trans fats, coconut and palm oils, sugary foods and drinks, foods with added salt, alcohol, and red meat.
  • Get active. Aim to get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week — this can be a simple as brisk walking.
  • Quit smoking . If you smoke, quit. Ask your doctor to suggest products and programs that can help.
  • Take your medicine. If your doctor prescribes medicine to keep your HDL, triglycerides, blood pressure or blood glucose under control, take it as directed.

Are you at risk for metabolic syndrome? Talk to your doctor about making lifestyle choices to manage your risks.

Sources: National Institutes of Health,