Metabolic syndrome: Do the math

Metabolic Syndrome: Do the Math

Posted by Steffanie Campbell, M.D. on Oct 17, 2015, 9:00:00 AM

Add a few points to your cholesterol, increase your blood sugar levels a bit, let out your belt a few notches…no big deal, right? But multiply these numbers by others and you may have an equation for metabolic syndrome, which can add up to some pretty serious health problems.

Metabolic syndrome, sometimes called Syndrome X, is not really a disease. It’s actually a cluster of risk factors. Taken together they can raise your chance for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. I have read recent research that the syndrome can double your chances of developing heart disease and increase five-fold the likelihood you will develop diabetes.

Problems can add up

Having even one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome isn’t ideal, but it takes three or more for an official diagnosis. Your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke increase with the number of risk factors, which include:
  • Too much weight around the mid-section or an “apple shape” body.
  • High blood pressure or being on medicine for high blood pressure.
  • High blood sugar or being on medicine for high blood sugar.
  • High triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) or being on medicine for high triglycerides.
  • Low good cholesterol (HDL) or being on medicine for low HDL.


Certain things can increase your chances for metabolic syndrome:

  • Age: As you age your risk increases.
  • Race. It’s more common in Hispanics and Asians.
  • A family history of metabolic syndrome.
  • Smoking.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Insulin resistance.
  • Being overweigh.t
  • Certain other diseases like polycystic ovary syndrome or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Divide and conquer your risks

Your first step is to learn your numbers, then work with your doctor to monitor and improve them. I tell my patients that, though they may need medicine, a major part of their long-term health is in their control.


My tried-and-true recommendations can go a long way to making you healthier in general and helping prevent or improve metabolic syndrome in particular.

  • Eat healthy. Your doctor can help with specific diet recommendations.
  • Lose some weight
  • Exercise and be more active throughout the day
  • Stop smoking

Finding out you have metabolic syndrome can be a wake-up call to come up with a better formula for healthy living.

What are you doing to keep your numbers under control? Do you have any tips for others who have been told they are in danger of developing metabolic syndrome?

Campbell_Steffanie Dr. Steffanie Campbell specializes in Internal Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Pearland. Preventive care, individualized care plans and women’s health are her primary clinical interests.

Topics: diabetes, risk factors, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, syndrome x, stroke, prevention

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