You have probably heard the saying that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. It’s true that you can’t live forever, but you can have some say over how that death comes and the quality of life you live in the meantime. Heart disease accounts for one out of four deaths in the U.S. every year, so wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way for you to know if you were at risk? Metabolic syndrome is an indication that heart disease could be in your future, so take the hint and make the necessary changes to help take cardiovascular death off the table…sorry, we can’t help with the taxes!
Metabolic Syndrome And Heart Disease
Metabolic syndrome refers to a combination of conditions that make a person more likely to get cardiovascular disease. These conditions can be in the form of hypertension or high blood pressure, blood clots, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance or imbalance. Metabolic syndrome affects twenty to thirty percent of people, and it is shown to increase the risk of heart disease from two to four times that of a normal person. The reasons for metabolic syndrome occurrence is somewhat affected by genetics in that a person with a family history of the disease is at higher risk. However, a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight play a major part in why someone gets metabolic syndrome. Statistically, this illness affects five percent of people of normal weight, twenty-two percent of overweight people, and a whopping sixty percent of people with obesity. In fact, research has shown that a person who gains five pounds per year increases his or her risk of metabolic syndrome, and subsequently heart disease, by forty-five percent.
Metabolic Syndrome Diagnosis
Metabolic syndrome can be somewhat difficult to identify on your own since most of the conditions are symptomless for the most part. Some signs could include an increased thirst or urination frequency, fatigue, or blurred vision. If you experience any of these, talk to your doctor about possible additional testing to see if there are other underlying issues. Most of the factors contributing to metabolic syndrome require testing, so it is a good idea to get regular blood screenings that include a lipid panel. A lipid panel is a series of tests used to assess cardiovascular risk and generally includes measures like HDL or “good” cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, glucose, and triglyceride levels. Annual lipid panels are covered by many insurance plans, so check with your provider for further information.
A person may have one of the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome without having the actual disease. In order to be considered metabolic syndrome, a person must meet at least three of the criteria. The first is high insulin levels with a fasting blood glucose level of 100 mg/dl. High blood pressure is another possible factor, with the “high” being considered at least 130/80. As was already mentioned, obesity is a factor, and this can be measured by a BMI (body mass index) of thirty or higher or by a waist circumference of over 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Cholesterol and triglycerides are the last factor, with the risky measurements being an HDL cholesterol level of 35 mg/dl or lower and triglycerides of 150 mg/dl or higher.
If a person is taking medication or being treated for any of these conditions, that constitutes meeting one of the three criteria. Again, talk to your doctor about obtaining these measurements, especially if you are overweight or have not been tested in a while.
Aside from heart disease, metabolic syndrome carries an increased risk of other problems as well. A person with metabolic syndrome is nine to thirty times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than someone without the syndrome. Other illnesses associated with metabolic syndrome are kidney damage caused by protein leaking into the urinary tract, a fatty liver, sleep apnea, and dementia or other cognitive decline. Because of the potential seriousness caused by this disease, it is important that you take steps to prevent it or address it. The best way to do this is by maintaining a healthy weight through regular activity and healthy eating. For metabolic syndrome, the Mediterranean diet can be quite helpful because it focuses on eating good fats and protein while limiting carbohydrates, all of which improve several of the metabolic conditions. You can find out more about the Mediterranean diet by clicking here. In addition to diet and exercise, your doctor may also recommend medication to treat one or more conditions like regulating blood pressure or insulin levels.
If you are curious about your risk of cardiovascular disease, or if you are overweight and wondering if you may have metabolic syndrome, a heart screening at TrustCare Heart is the best place to start. Our basic heart screening is $25. Make an appointment with TrustCare Heart. We can talk to you about your risk factors, arrange for any necessary testing, and help you develop a treatment plan.