Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is the name for a group of heart risk factors that are present in a person, putting them at a high risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Get the facts on Metabolic Syndrome

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

While the precise international definition varies, Australian medical experts are more definite. According to the Australian Heart Foundation’s 2005 position statement, you have Metabolic Syndrome if you have excess fat stored around the waist (more than 95 cm for men and 80cm for women) and any two of the following complications:

  1. High Blood Pressure – greater than 130/85*
  2. High levels of triglycerides in the blood – greater than 1.7 mmol/l *
  3. Low levels of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol – greater than 1.03 (men) or higher than 1.29 (women) *
  4. Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), or ‘pre-diabetes’, where blood glucose levels that are higher than normal (greater than 5.6) but not quite high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes.

* Applies if you are on a treatment program, even where treatment may have brought your levels below those stated above

What causes Metabolic Syndrome?

Researchers are still working on the exact causes of Metabolic Syndrome, but there’s general agreement that obesity is the starting point, and that it often marks the start of the road toward potentially life threatening conditions including Stroke, diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease.

Genes can sometimes play a role in High Cholesterol levels, High Blood Pressure and diabetes. However a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet are the key reasons for the development of Metabolic Syndrome. Smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol on top of these other factors don’t help either.

What are the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome?

Being overweight and having symptoms of two of either High Blood Pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL and diabetic levels would indicate Metabolic Syndrome.

How is Metabolic Syndrome treated?

Treatment starts with aggressively tackling the medical conditions at the core of Metabolic Syndrome. That invariably means medication, but lifestyle changes are vital to get blood pressure and ‘bad’ cholesterol levels down, to elevate ‘good’ cholesterol, and to control blood glucose levels.

A strong focus on healthy low GI diet, more physical activity, weight management, smoking reduction and lowering alcohol consumption are the core components of a treatment program.

Even a small reduction in body weight (7-10%), achieved with three hours of physical activity each week can make a huge difference: lowering blood pressure, reducing waist girth, improving cholesterol, increasing insulin response and helping to prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Supplements, such as Fish Oil Omega 3, have been known to lower triglycerides and raise HDL. Aged garlic extract can lower blood pressure and taking CoQ10 as an antioxidant boost, particularly if you’re not a big fan of fresh vegetables, certainly won’t hurt.

How is Metabolic Syndrome prevented?

While there may be some genetic causes behind Metabolic Syndrome, there’s ample evidence to suggest that prevention is possible with a heart healthy lifestyle.

Know your risk factors, manage them, and follow this quick guide to improved cardiovascular health. Importantly, if you have any concerns about your heart, particularly if you have a family history of heart disease, don’t delay – talk to your doctor.

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Don't Smoke

If you smoke, there has never been a better time to quit. Nicotine replacement patches or prescription medications are effective in reducing the cravings.

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Check Your Cholesterol Levels Regularly

Do you know your cholesterol levels? Most people don't. Information is key, so knowing where you stand is the first step in keeping track and maintaining your heart health. You can order a Blood Pathology Request through Results are mailed directly to you and you can track your results using the My Heart Health section of

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Take Supplements Daily

Supplements are a great way to make sure you're getting your daily requirement of heart healthy nutrients. Supplements such as Omega 3 fish oil, Vitamins C and E and Coenzyme Q10 can be very beneficial to your heart health.

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Keep Your Blood Sugar In Range

If you have diabetes, follow your doctor’s direction and keep your blood glucose within a healthy range. Even if you don't have diabetes, stick to a low GI (Glycaemic Index) diet. You won’t be hungry and your blood sugar levels will be stable.

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Check Your Blood Pressure Regularly

Order a blood pressure monitor and keep track of your blood pressure weekly. You can record your results in the My Heart Health section of Aim to keep your blood pressure out of the danger zone - below 140/90mmHg. If your blood pressure is consistently high see your doctor.

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Be Active

Get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, or at least 2 hours in total per week. Even better, if you can get 4 hours of sweaty activity per week, you'll help lower your risk of cancer too.

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Watch Your Waistline

Get your waist measurement to your 'low risk' zone. Men should keep it below 95cm and women should be below 80cm. Aim for a Body Mass Index of less than 25. You can track your progress in the My Heart Health section of

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Seek Happiness

Happiness is good for the heart. Just as negative emotions such as depression, anger, and hostility are risk factors for heart attack and stroke, studies show that happiness seems to protect the heart.