What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that, when present, increase a person's risk for developing heart disease, and as a result, increase the risk of heart attack, heart damage, and death. These risk factors include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat (particularly around the waist), and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Having one of these conditions does not mean you have metabolic syndrome, but it does significantly increase the risk of developing a serious disease.

Metabolic syndrome is also linked to obesity and insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. In a study reported in the journal Thyroid, researchers took a group of almost 4000 people who were “euthyroid” — they had thyroid levels that were within the normal reference range. The group studied had no history of thyroid problems or diabetes. This study suggests that even among people who have a so-called “normal” TSH level, a low Free T4 level has a metabolic impact that increases the risk of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance — conditions that then increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Studies also show that metabolic syndrome is associated with a significant reduction in the conversion of T4 to T3. This reduction of T3 is often accompanied by an increased conversion of T4 to reverse T3. These factors combine to result in a deficiency in T3 and induce a state of hypothyroidism. Additionally, the elevated insulin levels present in metabolic syndrome will increase D2 activity (a dopamine receptor) while suppressing TSH levels. This leads to thyroid levels decreasing, meaning TSH is an unreliable marker for thyroid health for people with this condition.

What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome does not present with obvious signs or symptoms. Indicators can include: a large waist circumference, high blood sugar, increased thirst, increased urination, thirst, and blurred vision.

Metabolic syndrome is becoming increasingly common, with one-third of the U.S. developing this condition. If you think you may have metabolic syndrome but are not getting the help you need, ask a specialist at Holtorf Medical Group to learn more about the steps you can take towards treating this syndrome and regaining your health.

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