What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Your metabolic syndrome is essentially having three of numerous risk factors – they are all important. And, it is likely you have heard of all of them. Can you do anything about improving them?

High blood pressure – do you have it?

One of the following may apply to you:

  • You’re taking blood pressure medication
  • Your diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) is 90mm Hg or higher
  • Your systolic blood pressure (top number) is 140mm Hg or higher

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A good or average blood pressure is 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). Thus, if you have metabolic syndrome, you are can be 2 to 4 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease (including heart attack and stroke) and, 5 times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes than those individuals without metabolic syndrome. There are some things you can do to improve your blood pressure, which include watching sodium intake, eat healthy (leafy green vegetables, salads, fruits, etc.), limit alcohol consumption, exercise regularly, manage your stress levels, eat bananas, stop smoking if you are, and more. We will expound on these in a later issue.

Elevated triglycerides

Your triglycerides are considered elevated when they equal to or more than 150 mg/dL or you are taking medication to lower your triglycerides.

The National Cholesterol Education Program sets guidelines for triglyceride levels:

  • Normal levels: Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter
  • Borderline high:150 to 199
  • High: 200 to 499
  • Very high: 500 or more

Elevated levels may lead to heart disease, especially in people with low levels of “good” cholesterol and high levels of “bad” cholesterol. The same is true if you have type-2 diabetes.

Experts once debated how important triglycerides are, but it now seems abundantly clear that higher levels are linked to problems such as heart disease. And, more importantly, a good diet and exercise plan can lower triglyceride levels, improve cholesterol, and decrease your chance of heart disease.

Low HDL (good) cholesterol

  • Women – your HDL cholesterol is less than 50 mg/dL or you’re taking medication to improve your cholesterol.
  • Men – your HDL cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL or you’re taking medication to improve your cholesterol.

Total cholesterol is the sum of all the cholesterol in your blood. Your risk for heart attack and stroke increases with higher cholesterol levels. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and family history of heart disease or stroke.

Total cholesterol
Less than 200 mg/dL: desirable
200-239 mg/dL: borderline high risk
240 and over: high risk

Abdominal obesity – what we call belly fat (see our August 2018 issue).

  • Men – Your waist circumference is greater than 40 inches.
  • Women – Your waist circumference is greater than 35 inches.

You should measure your waistline on occasion to check how you’re doing. Use the following 5 steps:

  1. Measure the smallest part of your abdomen between your belly button and the center of your rib cage. If for some reason you cannot identify the smallest part of your abdomen, take the measurement at your belly button.
  2. Measure your waist while standing tall, arms at your sides, and feet together (or as close together as possible).
  3. Keep your body relaxed and take the measurement after you completely exhale. Do not give in to the temptation to suck in your stomach. The key is to watch your posture.
  4. Keep the measuring tape horizontal – all the way around your waist. The key is to keep it tight but do not compress or pinch your skin.
  5. Take multiple measurements until each measurement is within ¼ inch of each other. Record an average of the results, i.e., 3 of 5 – toss out the high and the low and use remaining 3 to calculate your waistline.

Impaired fasting glucose

Your fasting glucose is 100mg/dL or higher or you are on medication to control your blood sugar. This fasting glucose is generally after you have gone without food for 24 hours.

MyHealthandFitness suggests you let your doctor or physician check your triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and fasting glucose numbers – they can do so with a simple blood-work test.

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