Metabolic syndrome is potentially lethal, especially in the adult population aged 60 and above, says a new study from the University of California, San Francisco.
Approximately one third of the American population, or one in three Americans present a combination of risks that may lead to heart disease and stroke.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a bundle of at least three risk factors of the following five. Firstly, one risk factor taken into account is abdominal obesity. Secondly, if one has been diagnosed with either high-levels of triglycerides or low levels of lipoproteins, chances are that the person needs to be checked for other risk factors as well. These include increased blood pressure and increased blood sugar levels following fasting.
In relation to abdominal obesity, the indication can be found in size. For men, a waist size measuring 40 inches or more pinpoints abdominal obesity. For women, a 35 inches waist size is considered abdominal obesity. In short, metabolic syndrome is a grouping of three or more of the five risk factors and is also known by the name Syndrome X.
The University of California study drew on health data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over a period of 9 years, from 2003 to 2012 and other data sources. Researchers found that one third of the American population presents the risk of metabolic syndrome that can lead to lethal cardiovascular problems.
Between 2011 and 2012, 35 percent of the U.S. population was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. The rate represented a 2 percent increase from 2003-2004 levels. Since then, higher percentages were diagnosed with Syndrome X, but the numbers stabilized recently.
Dr. Robert Wong, lead author of the study expressed his concern:
“I think it will potentially place a huge burden on our health care system”.
To back his concern, the study shows that metabolic syndrome is not only targeting the elderly, the diagnosis having jumped levels in all age groups. In the age group from 20 to 39 years old, the prevalence rose by 18 percent. From 46 to 60 years old or above, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome rose 20 percent.
What is interesting is that metabolic syndrome diagnosis is also more frequently diagnosed in women, with a percentage of 35 percent. By comparison 30 percent of men are found to present metabolic syndrome.
The Hispanic group is more likely to be diagnosed with the syndrome, followed by non-Hispanic whites and African Americans.
The findings shed light on how health authorities should target risk groups.
Dr. Wong commented in light of this result:
“This is actually a fascinating finding because it highlights race or ethnicity-specific disparities in disease prevalence and risk”.
The more detailed findings of the study can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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