'Metabolic Syndrome' Label Misleads...

by Amy Tenderich Patient Expert

Reprinted with permission from Amy Tenderich of www.diabetesmine.com.

Maybe you already knew that "Metabolic Syndrome," otherwise known as "Syndrome X" is not a "real" disorder. Really.

In case you're not familiar, Metabolic Syndrome is defined as the presence of at least three of these five factors:

  1. fasting glucose above 110 (above 126 is the criteria for overt diabetes)

  2. high blood pressure (top number above 130 or the bottom number above 85)

  3. triglycerides above 150

  4. HDL cholesterol below 40 in men, and below 50 in women

  5. large waist circumference (>40 inches in men, and >37 inches in women)

But all the hoopla about this scary "syndrome" is pretty much hooey, according to the Medical Powers that Be.

As Richard Kahn, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer of the ADA, recently explained: "Diagnosing the 'metabolic syndrome' misleads people into believing they have a unique disease. What they really have are well-known cardiovascular risk factors, the combination of which does not add up to a more significant or higher cardiovascular risk than the individual components."

What's disturbing is that a number of drug companies are pushing for formal recognition of the "Metabolic Syndrome" by the FDA, so that they can market and sell products that ostensibly help combat and cure it (see photo). Equally disturbing is knowing that human nature leads lots of people to fall right into this hole, believing that one simple pill will "take care of" all their cardiovascular risk factors. What they really need to do is much more inconvenient and time-consuming, of course: change their eating habits and get more active

Keep in mind that off-target results in your blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides all have independent effects on your risk for cardiovascular disease. Having more than one of these factors out of range increases your risk further -- as does higher-than-normal blood glucose levels (hellooo!)

But as a person with diabetes, it might soothe you to know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in people without diabetes too, as well as people with "metabolic syndrome," pre-diabetes, and diabetes. So if you keep your cardioivascular risk factors in check, you stand just as good a chance of living a long and healthy life as anybody else :)

Amy Tenderich
Meet Our Writer
Amy Tenderich

Amy wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Diabetes.