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Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by the presence diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. These conditions increase the risk of cardiovascular illnesses such as stroke and heart disease. Individually, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity can lead to vascular damage, but a combination of these illnesses is particularly dangerous.
As these conditions are so common, metabolic syndrome is estimated to affect as many as one in four adults in the UK.
Some of the typical features of metabolic syndrome are described below.
Factors that increase the risk of metabolic syndrome include a genetic predisposition to developing insulin resistance, overweight and physical inactivity. Therefore, individuals with a genetic tendency towards insulin resistance are more likely to develop the syndrome if they fail to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Metabolic syndrome is particularly common in people of Asian and African-Carribean descent and in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome.
The risk of metabolic syndrome developing can be reduced if people make certain lifestyle changes, some of which are listed below.