What is Metabolic Syndrome?


Our lifestyle has an effect on our health. Although today we know that certain habits will favor the appearance of different health conditions we also know that genetics also plays a very important role. Let’s talk about metabolic syndrome. If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you have probably heard about the metabolic syndrome that in many cases increases the risk of developing type 2, among other conditions.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that contribute to the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Risk Factors and Causes of Metabolic Syndrome

These risk factors include insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia (excess insulin in the blood), obesity and excess body fat around the abdominal and waist areas, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. Due to these risk factors, there isn’t one singular cause of metabolic syndrome. 

Other risk factors include:

  • History of heavy smoking/drinking
  • Age—as you age, risks of having metabolic syndrome increase
  • History or family history of diabetes
  • Ethnicity—Black/African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely of developing metabolic syndrome

The committee of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists proposed that the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome was to be considered when two or more of the components shown below were present.

  • Blood glucose: fasting between 6.1-6.9 mmol/L110-125 mg/dL, two hours after a shot of 75 grams of glucose between 7.8 mmol/L140 mg/dL and 11.1 mmol/L200 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: levels greater than 8.3 mmol/L150 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol: in men less than 2.2 mmol/L40 mg/dL and in women greater than 2.8 mmol/L50 mg/dL
  • Blood pressure greater than 130/85

Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

The symptoms of metabolic syndrome aren’t always obvious and resemble the signs and symptoms of other health issues like type 2 diabetes.

Is it Preventable? How is it Treated?

Metabolic syndrome is preventable and treated by committing to a healthy lifestyle—exercising regularly, eating well, losing weight, if necessary and not smoking. Genetics can play a role, too, that are exacerbated by environmental factors.

If you are overweight, losing between 5 and 10 percent of your body weight will help your body to use insulin in a better way. If you are not overweight visit a nutrition specialist to learn how to choose healthier foods and to review the size of appropriate portions to meet your personal needs.

Exercise not only helps avoid the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and related health issues, but it will also help your general health, including your emotional health. Exercise also helps improve insulin sensitivity.  

WRITTEN BY Beyond Type 2 Editorial Team, POSTED 04/12/19, UPDATED 10/11/22

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 2 Editorial Team.