Metabolic Syndrome

Donna Hayek, RD

Definition: An abnormal value of three out of the five of these measurements that cause a risk for type 2 diabetes and/or heart disease (stroke, heart attack, peripheral vascular disease). These conditions can be treated with lifestyle changes and/or medications.

  • Blood pressure
  • Waist circumference
  • Blood sugar levels (glucose)
  • Triglycerides
  • HDL cholesterol 

  • High blood pressure: >130/80

Damages the lining of blood vessels that can lead to plaque development which can cause chest pain and can lead to dementia.  With too much plaque around, it can cause 

a heart attack or stroke.

  • Waist circumference: women >35 inches, men>40 inches

Fat around the liver that wraps around the organs is called visceral fat.  Visceral fat and insulin resistance go together.  The liver helps regulate blood sugar levels.  An increased amount of body fat increases inflammation which increases the incidence of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels): >100 mg/dL fasting blood sugar.

High blood sugar causes insulin resistance; which also makes the body less responsive to insulin since the pancreas ultimately can’t keep up and glucose then builds up in the blood which causes hyperglycemia and ultimately type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes increases the risk for atherosclerosis.

  • Triglycerides: >150 mg/dL 

A type of fat from excess calories consumed from carbohydrates that is stored as fat; which can lead to atherosclerosis.

  • HDL cholesterol: women<50 mg/dL, males<40 mg/dL

This is the good cholesterol that removes cholesterol from the blood vessels which protect against atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.  An increase in exercise can raise the HDL levels.