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Metabolic Syndrome

Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Division of Education

PBRC 2009
Metabolic Syndrome: Overview

 Metabolic Syndrome is not a disease, but rather a cluster of disorders of your body’s
metabolism, including:

o High blood pressure

o High insulin levels
o Excess body weight
o Abnormal cholesterol levels

 Each of these disorders is by itself a risk factor for other diseases.

 In combination, however, these disorders dramatically boost the chances

of developing potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as diabetes,
heart disease or stroke.

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Signs and Symptoms

The more components of the syndrome that you have,

the greater the risks to your health.

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Metabolic Syndrome

 The syndrome is closely related to a generalized metabolic disorder

called insulin resistance, in which the body can’t use insulin efficiently.

 Metabolic syndrome has been called many names, including:

o Syndrome X
o The deadly quartet
o Insulin Resistance Syndrome

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 Affects as many as one in four American adults (25%)

 For adults over the age of 40, more than 40% are affected.
 Metabolic syndrome prevalence has increased by 61% over the past decade.
 Rates differ among races and genders.

PBRC 2009 National Health and Nutrition

Examination Survey III, 1988-1994.
Risk Factors
The following factors increase your risk of developing
Metabolic Syndrome:
Apple Pear

Age The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting less than 10% of people in
their 20s and 40% of people in their 60s.

Race Metabolic syndrome is generally more common among blacks and Mexican-Americans than
among Caucasians.
Obesity A body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 increases your risk of metabolic syndrome and
abdominal obesity increase the risk of MS. Abdominal obesity refers to having an apple
shape rather than a pear.

History of Having a family history of type 2 diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
diabetes increases the risk for developing metabolic syndrome.

Other A diagnosis of hypertension, cardiovascular disease (CVD) or polycystic ovary syndrome

diseases (a hormonal disorder in which a woman’s body produces an excess of male hormones) also
increases the risk for metabolic syndrome.

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When is it time to seek medical advice?

 The presence of one feature of metabolic syndrome,

such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or an
apple-shaped body, increases the risk. An individual
may already have the condition and not know it.

 It is important to talk with your doctor about testing for

other components of the syndrome and developing a plan
to avoid serious diseases.

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Healthy lifestyle changes can prevent the onset of the syndrome.

 Commit to a healthy diet

o A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, choosing lean
cuts of white meat and fish over red meat, avoiding processed or
deep-fried dinners, and eliminating table salt by experimenting with
other herbs and spices.

 Get moving
o It is important to stay active. Get at least 30 minutes of moderately
strenuous activity on most days of the week is recommended.

 Schedule regular check-ups

o This includes assessing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar
levels annually. Early detection of problems can help with formulating
lifestyle modifications.

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Diagnosing Metabolic Syndrome
According to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), the presence of
three or more of the following traits indicates metabolic syndrome:

 Waist Circumference
o Greater than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men (abdominal obesity)

 Triglyceride
o Levels of 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or higher

 Blood Pressure
o 130/85 millimeters of mercury or higher

 Fasting blood glucose

o Level of 110 mg/dl or higher

 High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL)

o Lower than 50 mg/dl in women and 40 mg/dl for men

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 The underlying insulin resistant state is the primary target of therapy.

 The primary goal of treatment is to prevent:

o Type 2 diabetes
o Heart attack
o Stroke

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 To reduce insulin resistance in overweight and obese individuals, the preferred

method is an aggressive regimen of self-care strategies focusing on diet and

 It is common for your doctor to routinely monitor the following to ensure that
lifestyle modifications are working:
o Weight
o Blood glucose
o Cholesterol
o Blood pressure

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Although metabolic syndrome creates a real risk for developing diabetes, stroke or heart disease,
these conditions can be prevented. Insulin resistance can be controlled by the following:

 Lose weight
o Losing as little as 5 to 10% of your body weight can reduce insulin levels and high
blood pressure, thus reducing your risk of diabetes.
 Exercise
o Walking just 30 minutes a day or engaging in other aerobic activities can help
prevent the serious diseases associated with MS.
 Stop smoking
o Smoking cigarettes increases insulin resistance and worsens health
consequences associated with MS.
 Eat fiber-rich foods
o Whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are high in dietary fiber.
These are important foods to eat since dietary fiber is known to
lower insulin levels.

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Medications to control the syndrome’s individual risk factors include:

Weight Along with diet and exercise, it may be necessary to prescribe weight loss drugs.
loss drugs Two commonly prescribed weight-loss drugs include sibutramine (Meridia) and
orlistat (Xenical).

Insulin In individuals with diabetes, doctors often prescribe thiazolidinediones and metformin
sensitizers (Glucophage, Glucophage XR) to decrease insulin resistance. These medications may
also be useful in improving insulin metabolism in individuals with MS.

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Medications to control the syndrome’s individual risk factors include:

Aspirin Aspirin is often prescribed to help reduce the risk for a heart attack.

Medications Major types of medications used to control high blood pressure include diuretics,
to lower angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and
blood beta blockers.
Medications Medications such as niacin, statins and fibrates can help improve cholesterol in the
to regulate following ways:
cholesterol By reducing the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
By increasing the level of high-density (HDL) cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
By decreasing the level of triglycerides (Another “bad” component of cholesterol)

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Division of Education
Phillip Brantley, PhD, Director
Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Claude Bouchard, PhD, Executive Director
Heli J. Roy, PhD, RD
Shanna Lundy, BS
Beth Kalicki

PBRC 2009
Edited: October 2009
About Our Company
 The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is a world-renowned nutrition research center.

 Mission:
 To promote healthier lives through research and education in nutrition and preventive medicine.

 The Pennington Center has several research areas, including:

 Clinical Obesity Research
 Experimental Obesity
 Functional Foods
 Health and Performance Enhancement
 Nutrition and Chronic Diseases
 Nutrition and the Brain
 Dementia, Alzheimer’s and healthy aging
 Diet, exercise, weight loss and weight loss maintenance

 The research fostered in these areas can have a profound impact on healthy living and on the prevention of common chronic
diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis.

 The Division of Education provides education and information to the scientific community and the public about research
findings, training programs and research areas, and coordinates educational events for the public on various health issues.

 We invite people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the exciting research studies being conducted at the
Pennington Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If you would like to take part, visit the clinical trials web page at
www.pbrc.edu or call (225) 763-3000.
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 Smith S. Metabolic syndrome targets. Current Drug Targets. 2004;3: 431-439.

 Mayo Clinic: Metabolic syndrome. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com .
Accessed September 20, 2005.
 The American Heart Association: Metabolic Syndrome. Available at:
http://www.americanheart.org . Accessed September 20, 2005.

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