About a third of US adults have metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors that increases their risk of heart disease and strokes, according to new research.

While previous studies found an increasing prevalence of the so-called metabolic syndrome among US adults, researchers report in JAMA that rates remained mostly stable between 2008 and 2012.

The finding should be taken with “cautious optimism,” said coauthor Dr Robert J Wong of the Alameda Health System-Highland Hospital Campus in Oakland, California.

But “a huge proportion of the US population is affected, and it puts you at risk for so many diseases,” Wong told Reuters Health.

Metabolic syndrome is present when people have three or more of the following risk factors: abdominal obesity (waist size 40 inches or 102 cm in men or 35 inches or 88 cm in women, or larger), high blood levels of triglycerides, low blood levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure (or use of medication for it), and high blood sugar levels after an overnight fast (or use of diabetes medicines). (Also read: 5 Everyday Yoga Poses For Better Health)

According to the American Heart Association, “When a patient presents with these risk factors together, the chances for future cardiovascular problems are greater than any one factor presenting alone.”

Using data collected between 2003 and 2012 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Wong and his coauthors found that about a third of US adults aged 20 and up could be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

More than 35 percent of women qualified for the syndrome, compared to 30 percent of men. It was most common among Hispanic people and became increasingly common with age. More than half of women and Hispanics over age 60 had metabolic syndrome.

Overall, the prevalence of the condition increased from about 33 percent of adults in 2003 to about 35 percent in 2012.

Between 2008 and 2012, the overall prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the US was stable, the authors found, and decreased among women.

“Having metabolic syndrome is not going to kill you tomorrow but it puts you at risk for health consequences 10 to 15 years from now. If you don’t understand what it is, it makes it harder to advocate for your health.,” Wong said.

Many of the characteristics of metabolic syndrome are modifiable, so if you have the syndrome, you don’t need to have it forever, Wong said.

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Source: Reuters

A lifestyle writer & editor for 8 years, Avantika Kukreti is a multi-platform media professional and has worked with some of the biggest media brands of India. She is fascinated by the dynamics of the social media and feels it’s the most-reliable news source in today’s times, if used wisely. Her recent three year stint in Shanghai has made her more health savvy after she watched the Chinese go lengths to maintain their fitness. When not working, she spends time watching Tom and Jerry, & Pocoyo re-runs with her daughter.