More than one in three U.S. adults has metabolic syndrome and it is often higher in women than men, according to the American Heart Association. Screening for metabolic syndrome can help to catch various health problems before they become more serious and costly to treat. 

What is metabolic syndrome screening?

Metabolic syndrome screening measures five different things: blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, waistline, HDL cholesterol level and triglyceride level. These are the factors that can result in an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Many employers offer this type of screening to employees today and it is covered by various insurance plans. 

The Medisupps website gives you a clear picture of various plans in the Medicare Plan Finder 2021 and offers advice about choosing the plan that offers you the most value when it comes to all your healthcare needs.

Diagnosis of metabolic syndrome

When three or more of the following factors are not within the normal range, you have metabolic syndrome

Blood pressure: High blood pressure means that your heart has to pump your blood more forcefully to the arteries and this can damage them over time and cause heart problems. Systolic pressure is the pressure of the heart pumping out and a reading over 130 mmHg is considered unhealthy. Diastolic pressure is when the heart rests between beats and fills with blood. This reading is considered high if it is over 85 mmHg. 

Blood sugar: A fasting blood test, usually done in the morning before eating breakfast, offers the most accurate result when measuring blood sugar. High levels of sugar in the blood mean an increased risk of developing diabetes. A blood sugar level of over 100 mg/dL indicates high blood sugar. 

Waistline measurement: Weight in the belly area means the risk of developing heart disease is higher. A waist measurement of 35 inches or over in women and 40 inches or over in men indicates a higher risk. 

HDL cholesterol: HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries and if it is low, you have more risk of developing health problems. A low HDL cholesterol level in a blood test is less than 50 mg/dL for women and less than 40 mg/dL for men.

Triglycerides: People who have a high triglyceride levels or fat in the blood have a greater risk of developing heart disease. A normal level in a blood test is equal to or less than 150 mm/dL. 

What do I need to do if I have metabolic syndrome?

When you know your numbers as a result of screening, you are able to take action to improve them. They are early warning signals that you need to make some changes to your lifestyle, such as changing what you eat, exercising more, cutting out smoking and losing weight. You can reduce and even reverse all five risk factors with the lifestyle choices you make. 

A healthy diet: Healthy diets usually emphasize eating more fruit and vegetables, lean protein and high fiber whole grains. They also recommend limiting salt, sugar, saturated and trans fat, alcohol and sugary drinks. 

Regular physical activity: Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, such as brisk walking. Look for ways to increase your activity levels as much as you can, such as using stairs instead of the elevator or riding a bicycle instead of driving. 

Losing weight: Losing about 10 percent of body weight can lower blood pressure, reduce insulin resistance and decrease the risks of developing diabetes. 

If lifestyle changes do not work, medications are available to help control blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.