A person has metabolic syndrome when they have a combination of 3 or more certain health risks. These health risks include:
- high blood pressure
- high blood sugar levels
- excess body weight
- low levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL)
- high levels of triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood)
Each of these factors alone can increase a person's risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. However, the risk is much higher when these factors are found in combination.
Approximately one-quarter of Canadians have this condition, although the rate is higher for certain groups of people. For example, people of First Nations and South Asian descent have higher rates of metabolic syndrome than Caucasians.
Other major risk factors that may lead to the development of metabolic syndrome include:
- age (the risk of metabolic syndrome increases as you get older)
- a family history of type 2 diabetes
- other medical conditions including high blood pressure, heart or blood vessel disease, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (a condition where a woman's body produces too much male hormones)