Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is the name given to a group of metabolic risk factors or biochemical processes within the body that have been associated with an increase risk for heart disease and other related health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. When three or more of these factors are found to be outside normal ranges, MetS is diagnosed.
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The five metabolic risk factors: (source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute)
- A waist size of more than 35 inches for women or more than 40 inches for men (in some cases as low as 37 inches).
- A fasting triglyceride level of greater than 150 mg/dL, or on medication for the treatment of high triglycerides).
- A High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) level, also referred to as “Good Cholesterol” of under 50mg/dL for women and under 40mg/dL for men, or on medication to treat low HDL. The higher the HDL the more beneficial.
- High blood pressure, systolic; 130mm/HG or higher, diastolic 85mm/HG or higher, or on medicine to treat high blood pressure.
- High fasting blood sugar of 110mg/DL, or on medication to treat high blood sugar. Some MetS testing criteria is as low as 100mg/DL.
As the number of metabolic risk factors increases, so does a person’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Literature indicates that a person diagnosed with MetS is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who doesn’t have MetS.
The risk of developing MetS is more likely when an individual is overweight or obese, as these conditions are associated with a larger waistline, increases in fasting blood sugar and increased blood pressure. There is also an association between insulin resistance and MetS, especially when excess weight contributes to insulin resistance or when insulin resistance leads to increases in blood sugar.
MetS, is a” huge and growing health burden”, clinically, economically, socially and on individuals diagnosed with MetS, according to one reported study. A review of medical claims data revealed that MetS ” affects 25% of the world’s adults, with a twofold greater risk of a heart attack or stroke and a fivefold greater risk of type-2 diabetes.” The conclusion from this research is that ” this clustering of risks is now considered to be the driving force for a cardiovascular disease epidemic.”
The results of another study indicated that ” working-age individuals with MetS had significantly higher medical costs ($626 per member per month) as compared to those without MetS ($367 per member per month). Individuals with MetS experienced additional cardiovascular events higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. “These findings show that most cardiovascular cost and risk borne by employers is concentrated in the one-third of the working-age population with MetS.” As early as 2005 the Mayo Clinic projected the pharmacy costs for the treatment of an adult with MetS was more than four times the average annual amount spent on drugs for all other patients.
Understanding who is at risk for each of these specific factors is important for the implementation of effective interventions to prevent and reduce the impact. Employee health screening programs are one vehicle to identify those at risk.
Employees have been slow in implementing screening programs over the past 9 years, however with the increase in diagnosis of MetS due to the obesity epidemic and increasing medical costs, more and more employees are embracing screen programs specific to MetS.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical/nutritional/fitness advice. Information presented is subject to change as additional discoveries are made or additional research is published.
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Sources: Mayo Clinic; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; MedicineNet.com; GNS Healthcare; Workforce.com; TriageHealth.com; MedlinePlus