Metabolic Syndrome
0
Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome Causes and Risk Factors

Share

Metabolic syndrome has several causes, and each affects the other. You can control some of these causes, such as your diet and physical activity levels. Other causes, such as your age and your genes, cannot be controlled.

What causes metabolic syndrome?

A person’s weight is a major cause of metabolic syndrome. Fat cells, especially in your abdomen, can raise your levels of chemicals called free fatty acids. Free fatty acids can raise your levels of other chemicals and hormone that affect the way your body controls your blood sugar levels. Your body may not respond well to insulin, which is a hormone that controls how much sugar your muscles and organs absorb from your blood. This is called insulin resistance.

Free fatty acids and insulin resistance can raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower your “good” HDL cholesterol. Insulin resistance can also raise your blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels.

Also, cells from your immune system can cause your extra fat cells to make chemicals that increase inflammation in your body. This inflammation can cause plaque, a waxy substance, to build up inside your blood vessels. Plaque can break off and block your blood vessels. Inflammation itself also causes insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and heart and blood vessel diseases.

What raises the risk of metabolic syndrome?

Your risk of metabolic syndrome is affected by some things you can control, such as your lifestyle habits, and some that you cannot control, such as your age or family history.

Risk factors you can control

  • Lifestyle habits: The following lifestyle habits can raise your risk of metabolic syndrome:
    • Being inactive
    • Eating an unhealthy diet and large portion sizes
    • Not getting enough good quality sleep, which helps control how your body absorbs nutrients from the food you eat
    • Smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol
    During pregnancy, these habits can raise your child’s risk of metabolic syndrome later in life.
  • Occupation: Shift workers have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome because they often have circadian clocks that are not aligned with the environment. This can cause problems with how your body absorbs nutrients from food.

Risk factors you may not be able to control

  • Age: Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases as you get older.
  • Environment: Low socioeconomic status can lead to an unhealthy diet and an inactive lifestyle, and can cause you not to get enough sleep (sleep deprivation).
  • Family history and genetics: Your gene can affect your weight or how your body responds to insulin. You have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome if others in your family have had diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or any of its risk factors.
  • Other medical conditions: The following medical conditions can raise your risk of metabolic syndrome.
    • Overweight and obesity are the main risk factors for metabolic syndrome because they can raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and blood pressure, and lower “good” HDL cholesterol. Overweight and obesity during pregnancy can raise your child’s risk of metabolic syndrome. In infants, a low birth weight and rapid weight gain after birth can raise the risk of metabolic syndrome later in life.
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes fluid-filled sacs called cysts to grow on the ovaries. The hormone changes that cause PCOS can also cause you to have a large waistline, high blood sugar levels, high triglyceride levels, and low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
    • Problems with your immune system can cause some skin diseases such as psoriasis, which raise your risk. Certain cancer treatments that affect your immune system also can raise your risk.
    • Sleep problems, including not getting enough sleep (sleep deprivation), circadian rhythm disorders, and sleep apnea, can raise your risk.
    • Some medicines used to treat allergies, bipolar disorder, depression, HIV, and schizophrenia also raise your risk.
  • Sex: In older adults, women have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome than men. This is because changes in hormone levels after menopause can raise the risk of a large waistline, high blood sugar levels, and low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

How to prevent metabolic syndrome

The following steps can help you prevent metabolic syndrome:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Make heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking.
  • Schedule routine healthcare provider visits to keep track of your cholesterol, triglyceride, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
Last updated on