The metabolic syndrome is the name of a cluster of risk factors that, when they appear together, dramatically raise your risk of heart disease, heart failure, stroke and diabetes, as well as other non-cardiovascular conditions. Like smoking, it’s one of the strongest predictors of heart disease. “Nearly one in three Americans have metabolic syndrome. Many people don’t recognize that they have the condition and underestimate the risks it presents,” says Chiadi E. Ndumele, M.D., M.H.S. , cardiologist at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. “Understanding that you have metabolic syndrome in the first place can help motivate you to make the needed changes.”
Insulin resistance also may increase your risk for metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body can’t use its insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps move blood sugar into cells where it’s used for energy. Insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar levels, and it’s closely linked to overweight and obesity. Genetics (ethnicity and family history) and older age are other factors that may play a role in causing metabolic syndrome.