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Uncovering the impact of metabolic syndrome

Technician working on a vehicle with icon overlay representing heart, diabetes, and kidneys
Article

read time: 2 min

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Health & Wellness

Have you received a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome? Compare metabolic syndrome to a warning sign for your body—like your car’s check engine light. It alerts you to take a closer look under the hood and address potential health issues before they become more serious complications down the road. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help reverse or undo the impacts of metabolic syndrome.

 

Under the hood: the combined effects on your body

Like a check engine light, metabolic syndrome doesn’t point to a single issue, but rather a cluster of concerns. The risk factors of metabolic syndrome—obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol—can cause health problems on their own. When you combine 3 or more of these factors, the risk dramatically increases for you to develop:1

Metabolic syndrome + diabetes

Metabolic syndrome can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes, so it's vital to get regular diabetes screenings. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, vision loss, and many other health problems. The potential concern doesn’t stop there. If you have diabetes, you’re twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than someone who doesn’t have diabetes—and at a younger age.7 Strikingly, heart disease and strokes are the leading causes of death among people with diabetes. This is concerning, as approximately 23% of adults in the United States are still living with undiagnosed diabetes.8

Metabolic syndrome + heart disease

The 5 risk factors for diagnosing metabolic syndrome are also risk factors for heart and blood vessel diseases. When all metabolic risk factors are present, they may result in an even higher risk for heart and blood vessel diseases. Adipokines, proteins released by body fat tissue, could play a role in inflammation, energy balance, and insulin resistance,9 which contribute to heart issues, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. However, there’s still much to be discovered about the complex processes involved.

Metabolic syndrome + liver and kidneys

Your liver and kidneys can be affected, too. Metabolic syndrome can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.10 This disease can lead to fat buildup, inflammation, scarring, and, on rare occasions, cirrhosis. It can also decrease the rate at which your kidneys filter blood and increase your risk of developing chronic kidney disease.11

 

The inflammation—metabolic syndrome connection

Chronic inflammation, which happens over a long period, might be a big part of why people get metabolic syndrome. And recent studies have shown that inflammation plays a vital role in how metabolic syndrome worsens over time.6 It’s tough to tell if you have chronic inflammation because it doesn't always show any symptoms. Even seemingly healthy people may not realize they have it. But there are a few warning signs that may indicate it’s time to take action.

Take a closer look

 

Take action to reclaim your health

While metabolic syndrome poses multiple health challenges, you can effectively manage the potential effects of metabolic syndrome with lifestyle modifications and the support of your healthcare team.

So, pay attention to your body’s warning signs and take proactive measures to improve the health markers of metabolic syndrome. The good news is that metabolic syndrome can be treated effectively through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Like any good mechanic, you can take steps to keep your body running at top performance.

 

References

  1. Shmerling RH. Metabolic syndrome is on the rise: what it is and why it matters. Harvard Health. Published October 2, 2020. Accessed December 9, 2023. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/metabolic-syndrome-is-on-the-rise-what-it-is-and-why-it-matters-2020071720621
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes and your heart. Published June 20, 2022. Accessed December 9, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-and-heart.html
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes statistics report. Published November 29, 2023. Accessed December 9, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/index.html
  4. Tune JD, Goodwill AG, Sassoon DJ, Mather KJ. Cardiovascular consequences of metabolic syndrome. Transl Res. 2017;183:57-70. doi:10.1016/j.trsl.2017.01.001
  5. Paschos P, Paletas K. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome. Hippokratia. 2009;13(1):9-19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2633261/
  6. Zhang X, Lerman LO. The metabolic syndrome and chronic kidney disease. Transl Res. 2017;183:14-25. doi:10.1016/j.trsl.2016.12.004
  7. Sharma P. Inflammation and the metabolic syndrome. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2011;26(4):317-318. doi:10.1007/s12291-011-0175-6
Page Published: June 17, 2024

The Quest Editorial Team


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