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Metabolic Syndrome X


What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions that can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes. You may have metabolic syndrome if you have at least 3 of the following medical conditions:

  • High triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood)
  • Low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Extra abdominal fat

What increases my risk for metabolic syndrome?

The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known. Your risk for metabolic syndrome increases if you have insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body take sugar out of your blood and use it for energy. Insulin resistance means your pancreas keeps making insulin but your body cannot use it correctly. Your risk for metabolic syndrome also increases as you age, if you are overweight or obese, or you do not exercise.

What are the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome?

Most people with metabolic syndrome do not have any signs or symptoms. You may have more thirst or hunger than usual, urinate more often, or have blurred vision or headaches.

How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about other medical conditions you may have. He may ask if you have any family members with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, or heart disease.

  • Blood tests: These are used to check your glucose and cholesterol levels.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: Your blood sugar level is tested after you fast for 8 hours, then again after you are given a glucose drink. The test measures how high your blood sugar level rises from the glucose drink.

How is metabolic syndrome treated?

  • Cholesterol medicine: This type of medicine is given to help decrease (lower) the amount of cholesterol (fat) in your blood. Cholesterol medicine works best if you also exercise and eat a healthy diet that is low in certain kinds of fats. Some cholesterol medicines may cause liver problems. You may need to have blood taken for tests while using this medicine.
  • Blood pressure medicine: This is given to lower your blood pressure. A controlled blood pressure helps protect your organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Take your blood pressure medicine exactly as directed.
  • Hypoglycemic medicine: This medicine may be given to decrease the amount of sugar in your blood. Hypoglycemic medicine helps your body move the sugar to your cells, where it is needed for energy.

What are the risks of metabolic syndrome?

If untreated, metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. These conditions lead to life-threatening illness.

How can I manage metabolic syndrome?

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Weight loss helps lower cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. It can also raise HDL (good cholesterol). Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat foods that are low in fat and sodium (salt). A dietitian can help you plan healthy meals.
  • Exercise: Ask your healthcare provider to help you create an exercise plan. Exercise can help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Exercise can also help raise your HDL level and help you to lose weight. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days each week.
  • Check your blood pressure as directed: You may be asked to keep a record of your blood pressure and bring it with you to follow-up visits. Ask your healthcare provider what your blood pressure should be and how to check it.
  • Limit alcohol: Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking further increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have more thirst or hunger than usual.
  • You urinate more frequently.
  • You have blurred vision.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your blood pressure is higher than your healthcare provider told you it should be.
  • You have chest pain or discomfort that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back.
  • You have a severe headache or dizziness.
  • You have trouble thinking, speaking, or understanding others.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.