couple cooking dinnerMetabolic syndrome refers to a group of medical conditions that increase risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and renal issues. These conditions, all of which can affect seniors, include obesity, hypertension and insulin resistance.

Metabolic syndrome is on the rise, in connection with more instances of intra-abdominal obesity. This occurs when visceral fat surrounds the organs and torso. If you or a loved one already lives with one of the related conditions, here’s what you should know.

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Being diagnosed with one of these conditions does not mean you also have metabolic syndrome. Yet, when this group of conditions occurs together, there is a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, including the following complications:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Body fat around the waist
  • High cholesterol and triglyceride levels

An estimated one-third of American adults have metabolic syndrome. Its development is tied to obesity, lack of physical activity and insulin resistance – when glucose accumulates in the blood rather than being processed for energy. Patients with insulin resistance often see their blood sugar levels rise, in spite of the body’s efforts to produce more insulin.

Increasing physical activity and making other lifestyle changes can help combat the development of metabolic syndrome and may stem its progression.

Signs and Symptoms

The early signs of metabolic syndrome are not always clear but can include:

  • A large waist circumference
  • High blood sugar
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased urination

After an assessment, a doctor may diagnose you with the condition if you have at least three of the following characteristics:

  • A waist measuring at least 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men
  • Blood pressure above 130/85 mmHg
  • Triglyceride levels measuring at least 150 mg/dL or 1.7 mmol/L
  • HDL or “good” cholesterol levels under 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women
  • Fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dL or higher

Who’s at Risk for Metabolic Syndrome?

Multiple factors can increase your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, including:

  • Age: The risk for metabolic syndrome increases over time, particularly in relation to obesity and hypertension.
  • Diabetes: Those with a family history of Type 2 diabetes or who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a higher risk with age.
  • Obesity: Individuals who are obese or gain weight around their abdomen have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Ethnicity: Hispanic people are more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

To reduce your risks, it’s recommended that you:

  • Focus on getting regular physical activity, ideally a minimum of 30 minutes each day
  • Include more whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean protein in your diet
  • Strive to lose weight, about seven to 10 percent of your current body weight
  • Quit smoking

If you’re concerned about developing metabolic syndrome or are looking for help to manage symptoms, turn to the team at West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center. To learn more, contact our medical professionals today.