Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)

Metabolic Syndrome Syndrome X signs and symptoms and treatment options

Background Of Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)?

Metabolic Syndrome is the name attributed to a collection of risk factors: high blood pressure ( hypertension), obesity, and diabetes. Having just one of those risk factors can damage blood vessels; however, having all three together does put you at risk of developing stroke, heart disease, and other issues that can affect the blood vessels. [1]

Metabolic syndrome or Syndrome X is referred to as “metabolic” because it is attributed to the biochemical processes associated with chemical reactions in living cells and organisms. [2] Several factors contribute to this condition, including being aged over 35 and having central belly fat. The primary reason for developing this condition is due to living a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. [3]

What Are The Criteria For A Metabolic Syndrome Diagnoses?

To be given a diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome, you must present three or more of the following signs and symptoms as provided by the American Heart Association:

  • A waist circumference exceeding 94m in men, and 80 cm in women; this is referred to as central obesity
  • Fasting glucose levels in the blood must exceed or be equal to 100mg/dL
  • Triglyceride levels, another term for fat in the blood, must exceed or be equal to 150 milligrams/deciliter of blood
  • High-density lipoprotein levels, which is the good cholesterol in the blood, must be lower than 40 mg/dL for men and below 50mg/dL for women
  • Blood pressure must be higher than or consistently 130/85 mm of mercury [4]
Do you have metabolic syndrome or syndrome X? It is more common than we think and it can be devastating to your health. Central obesity with high visceral fat is common, with increased insulin resistance, heart disease, blood pressure and cholesterol.  Improve your health to reduce the risk of getting this metabolic condition.

Let’s discuss the above criteria for metabolic syndrome in greater detail

Central obesity

Central obesity occurs when the body’s primary deposits of fat accumulate around the abdomen and upper body. Ethnic background and gender impact a person’s risk of getting Metabolic Syndrome.

In Europe and the United States, if your waist circumference exceeds 94 cms (men) or 80 cms (women), then you must lose weight. Men from Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Caribbean backgrounds are considered at risk if their waist circumference exceeds 90cms.

Having high amounts of visceral fat can increase your risk of many conditions and diseases. See my post on visceral fat vs subcutaneous fat.

Impaired fasting glucose levels

Impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance are also referred to as “pre-diabetes.” These conditions arise when blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

One-third of individuals who have either condition go on to develop diabetes unless they make changes to their lifestyle.

Triglycerides and cholesterol in metabolic syndrome

Triglycerides can come from our diet, but they are produced by the liver as well; incidentally, drinking excess alcohol can increase triglycerides. If you are insulin resistant, then you might have higher than usual triglycerides levels.

Elevated blood triglycerides are often connected with low HDL (high-density lipoproteins); this type of cholesterol is known as the good type.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance, and it is also produced in our liver. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) tends to block arteries by accumulating on the walls of blood vessels. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol helps fight against the build-up of this fatty substance.

Raised triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol can increase your chances of developing atherosclerosis – this occurs when arteries narrow, contributing to heart disease.

Being overweight does increase your risk for high triglyceride levels, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure. Read here for natural ways to reduce blood cholesterol.

High blood pressure ( hypertension)

Hypertension occurs when an individual’s blood pressure is higher than 140/90mmHg. Certain elements may increase the risk of having this condition; they include lifestyle, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and genetics. Having high blood pressure can increase the likelihood of developing stroke, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease.

The ideal range of blood pressure is lower than 130/80 mmHg, mainly if other diseases are present. You should regularly check in with your doctor to find the appropriate range for you.

Regular exercise, not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, reducing the amount of salt in your diet, eliminating stressors, and achieving a healthy weight go a long way to lower blood pressure; although, sometimes medication is necessary [5]

The criteria for diagnoses necessitates making changes to your current lifestyle; however, your health care provider may prescribe medication to control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of your condition.

How To Prevent Or Reverse Metabolic Syndrome?

Living a healthy lifestyle can prevent metabolic syndrome, but, if you already have the condition, your doctor can make some health recommendations to your lifestyle – they can prevent and reverse Metabolic Syndrome; these changes include:

  • Frequent exercise
  • Eating a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet to control cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels
  • Cutting down on alcohol
  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight[6]

Can Medication Be Used To Treat Metabolic Syndrome?

Yes, medication may be used to treat Metabolic Syndrome if lifestyle changes are insufficient to control this condition.

Cholesterol medicines include statins, niacin, bile acid resins, Zetia, among other drugs.

Diabetes medicines might be necessary if you have glucose intolerance. These medicines include metformin, pioglitazone, and rosiglitazone.

High blood pressure medication includes ACE inhibitors, angiotensin, II receptor blockers, beta-blockers, diuretics, among other drugs.

Low-dose aspirin can lower the risks of heart attacks and strokes, and they can be crucial for individuals who are “prothrombotic” – prone to blood clots. All medicines carry risks and side effects, so you must discuss the pros and cons with your doctor.[7]


Metabolic Syndrome is not just one single condition but rather a collection of risk factors that occur together to increase your chances of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. The criteria for this disorder include obesity, insulin resistance, low levels of HDL cholesterol, high blood triglycerides, and high blood pressure.

The key to reversing this condition is making lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, exercising more, stopping smoking, lowering your alcohol intake, and eating low sodium foods.

Your health care provider should come up with a plan to help you manage Metabolic Syndrome and may prescribe drugs if necessary.

Many individuals with this condition find it helpful to keep a food diary for a week before an appointment; this merely involves writing down all the foods you eat per day.

This gives your doctor insight into your eating habits, and it helps them discuss ways you can improve your eating habits.

 Syndrome X, AKA metabolic syndrome can cause your health to deteriorate, from high blood pressure, cancer and dementia, to cancer, heart disease and fatty liver. If you have central obesity, your at high risk, time to change your lifestyle and improve your health outcomes. Syndrome X is becoming more common due to diet and lifestyle changes.

Emilie MASI

Registered Nurse, Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice Graduate Diploma of Wound Care Working towards Masters of Wound Care

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