Metabolic syndrome: three or more risk factors that can damage health

Kelsey Seybold Staff
Emanuel Nazario-Irizarry, M.D.
Internal Medicine
Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Clear Lake

Metabolic syndrome, also referred to as Syndrome X, can occur in individuals who may have put on a little too much extra weight over the years, who shoulder high levels of job stress, and who may not have attended to their health maintenance as they should. It’s not a disease, per se, but rather a cluster of risk factors that together can increase your chance for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Typically, individuals must have at least three of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome for physicians to diagnose the condition.

Dr. Emanuel Nazario-Irizarry, an Internal Medicine physician who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s Clear Lake Clinic, says the telltale risk factors for metabolic syndrome include:

  • Too much weight around the midsection 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.
  • Metabolic syndrome is a preventable condition for most.

“Smoking, a family history of metabolic syndrome, lack of exercise, obesity, stress, and insulin resistance can increase your chances for metabolic syndrome,” Dr. Nazario-Irizarry adds.

To help prevent metabolic syndrome, Dr. Nazario-Irizarry says to learn your “numbers” (total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides) and work with your doctor to monitor and improve them.

“It’s possible your doctor will put you on medication, but the good news is that you have control over the fate of your health,” says Dr. Nazario-Irizarry, who offers the following tips:

  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Eat healthy, balanced meals. Avoid heavy foods and alcoholic beverages before going to sleep.
  • Stick to a regular exercise routine to reduce stress and help you sleep.
  • If you smoke or use other tobacco products, stop.
  • Talk to your doctor if you’re struggling with the stresses of the job or getting enough sleep.