1 Out of 3 at Risk: You Could Have Metabolic Syndrome
Photo by Siora18 on Unsplash
According to new research, about a third of adults in the United States have an increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Though co-author of the study, Dr. Robert J. Wong of the Alameda Health System-Highland Hospital Campus says, “This finding should be taken with “cautious optimism”. But a huge proportion of the U.S. population is affected, and it puts you at risk for so many diseases. People should still be very vigilant.” Wong and his co-authors used data collected between 2003 and 2012 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that about a third of U.S. adults ages 20 and up could be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is present when you have tested positive for three or more of the following risk factors:
- Abdominal obesity
- High blood levels of triglycerides
- Low blood levels of “good” HDL cholesterol
- High blood pressure (or use of medication to treat it)
- High blood sugar levels after overnight fast (or use of diabetes medications)
“When a patient presents with these risk factors together, the chances for future cardiovascular problems are greater than any one factor presenting alone.” according to the American Heart Association.
In Wong’s study, more than 35 percent of women qualified for the syndrome, compared to 30 percent of men. The syndrome was found to be most common in Hispanic women and only increased with age. More than half of women and Hispanics over 60 had metabolic syndrome. “According to Gary Liguori of the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, “Women may be more likely to aggressively pursue weight control, which would certainly help. But this and other explanations are only speculation. Awareness on obesity, a big driver of metabolic syndrome, has increased tremendously in the past 10 years with many different public health efforts to stem the tide.”
Wong concludes that it is important to understand your risk for this syndrome – “If you don’t understand what it is, it makes it harder to advocate for your health. Having metabolic syndrome is not going to kill you tomorrow but it puts you at risk for health consequences 10 to 15 years from now.”