Metabolic Syndrome and Prediabetes

Treating metabolic risk factors can help prevent progression to diabetes.

By Merle Myerson, MD

Treatment of cardiovascular risk factors is important for people who are living with diabetes, but did you know that attention to particular risk factors may help prevent diabetes in those who have prediabetes? When blood tests indicate that someone has prediabetes, changes in lifestyle, as well as medical therapy when indicated, may help reverse the progression from prediabetes to diabetes. Many people who are in the prediabetic range often have a cluster of risk factors called "metabolic syndrome." While there is some debate on the exact implications of this syndrome, many healthcare providers feel that identifying those who have this cluster — and treating all aspects — is important in preventing progression from prediabetes to diabetes, as well as for overall cardiovascular health.

What is metabolic syndrome?

The components of metabolic syndrome are listed below. People who have at least three of the five components are considered to have the syndrome.

  1. Fasting Triglycerides greater than or equal to 150 mg/dL
  2. Blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/85 mmHg
  3. An HDL (or "good) cholesterol level of less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 mgl/dL in women
  4. Fasting glucose greater than or equal to 110 mg/dL
  5. Excess abdominal fat, measured by a waist circumference greater than or equal to 35 inches for women and greater than or equal to 40 inches in men

How are all these related and why is it important to treat all of them?

Having one component of the syndrome increases the likelihood of having more components. For example, having excess abdominal fat tends to increase Triglycerides. It is felt that the components are "metabolically" linked, hence the name metabolic syndrome.

What can be done to treat metabolic syndrome?

Fortunately, lifestyle modifications are very helpful here. Weight loss can lower Triglycerides and blood pressure and reduce abdominal fat. Exercise can also help with weight loss, raise HDL cholesterol, and improve insulin resistance.

When lifestyle measures do not bring a person to goal, medication is also recommended. This might include blood pressure medications or medication to lower Triglycerides. Keeping track of all these risk factors can be very helpful. Make a chart of each factor, your result, and the date. In this way you can monitor your "metabolic" health and work to prevent diabetes, and be in better cardiovascular health.

Read Dr. Myerson's bio here.

Read more of Dr. Myerson's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: August 01, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
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