Metabolic syndrome is a huge health issue that affects 1 in 3 American adults. It increases a patient’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It can also increase a patient’s risk for thrombosis.

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is as a series of risk factors that occur together. These risk factors include a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

The American Heart Association defines it as a combination of three or more of the following measurements:

  • Abdominal obesity (Waist circumference of 40 inches or above in men, and 35 inches or above in women)
  • Triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater
  • HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women
  • Systolic blood pressure (top number) of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater, or diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater
  • Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater

Metabolic syndrome often develops in patients who struggle with their weight. Genetics also play a large role in metabolic syndrome, as does age. Patients are more at risk as they grow older.

The Connection with Blood Clots

In 2007, a group of researchers from the Medical University Vienna in Austria sought to explore the connection between metabolic syndrome and venous thromboembolism (VTE), also known as blood clots. Their study, published by the European Hematology Association, concluded that there was an association between metabolic syndrome and participant’s risk of developing VTE.

“The metabolic syndrome may contribute to the development of VTE and is associated with a two-fold increased risk of VTE,” the researchers wrote.

A common tie between metabolic syndrome and VTE appears to be inflammation.

Research currently suggests that inflammation is a cause of thrombosis and researchers are using that connection to prevent thrombosis from occurring.

In metabolic syndrome, scientists have found that patients with metabolic syndrome have high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker of low-grade inflammation. This low-grade inflammation is mostly caused by obesity and high blood pressure, according to research out of the University of Porto Medical School.

Preventing Metabolic Syndrome

The best way you can protect yourself from metabolic syndrome, and the health hazards that come with it, is to live a healthy lifestyle. Here are six tips to help:

  • Avoid eating unhealthy foods that contain saturated fats, lots of sodium, and trans fats. Often, these are found in highly processed foods. You should also try to limit how much red meat you’re eating.
  • Try to eat more vegetables and fruits. Whole grains, lean meat, and low-fat dairy are also good choices.
  • Exercise at least 150 minutes a week. Exercising makes a huge difference in all aspects of health.
  • Limit unhealthy habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. Smoking is known to raise blood pressure levels and cause coronary heart disease.
  • See your doctor regularly. Metabolic syndrome can be hard to detect and doesn’t have obvious symptoms. Doctors can check for risk factors, such as high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and more.
  • Be aware of your family’s health history. Genetics can play a large role in many of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. By being aware of your genetic risk, you can be more conscious of how your daily choices could affect your health.