Heart Health Heart Health Basics

What are the Implications of Metabolic Syndrome on Heart Disease?

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Summary & Participants

Your risk of developing heart disease, stroke or diabetes is greatly increased if you suffer from a combination of health problems, known as metabolic syndrome. Learn what you can do to fight back.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript

ANNOUNCER: Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of conditions that greatly increase a person's chance of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The definition of this syndrome differs among experts, however they all agree; aggressive measures should be taken to treat each disorder associated with it.

SUZANNE HUGHES, MSN, RN: Metabolic syndrome is getting quite a bit of attention, both in the professional literature as well as in the lay media in the recent past.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of abnormalities that tend to occur in the same people, and by definition the metabolic syndrome means that you have three of the following five abnormalities:

The first one his high blood pressure or hypertension. And this means a blood pressure that's greater than 140/90. That meets the criteria for hypertension.

The next one is an abnormal level of blood glucose. This may or may not be associated with diabetes, depending on how high the blood sugar is. But this would include a blood sugar that in the fasting state is greater than 100 mg/dL. And a lot of people do have what we call prediabetes, so not a high enough level to be called diagnostic, but high enough that it's no longer considered normal or optimal, and that's an area between 100 and 125. So those are the first two.

The next one is a tendency to carry one's weight around the waist. So it's a waist measurement where a person tends to be kind of apple-shaped rather than pear-shaped. For women it's a waist measurement greater than 35 inches, and for a man, a waist measurement greater than 40 inches. And so where we carry our weight tends to be probably even more important than what our overall body weight is.

The last two characteristics are those associated with the cholesterol profile. And the first one is a triglyceride level greater than 150, and the second one is an HDL or a good cholesterol level that's less than 40 in men or less than 50 in women. So we have five characteristics: Hypertension, abnormal blood glucose, an increased tendency to carry the weight around the waist, a high triglyceride and a low HDL. And any three of those five qualifies one for metabolic syndrome.