How Is Metabolic Syndrome Diagnosed?
The obesity, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, and hypertension that make the diagnosis of the metabolic syndrome can be explored with blood work and cardiovascular testing to evaluate the status of the entire cardiovascular system.
Obesity is an end-result of a very complex assortment of predisposing conditions–nutritional, genetic, physiologic, and even psychiatric. The diagnosis of obesity requires much more than a scale or the tabulation of a BMI index. It requires insight into the misleading motivations to overeat, poor choices of diet, and the lack of physical exercise that partners with the overeating.
Consultation with a dietitian/nutritionist and possibly a therapist (psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist) is helpful.
Diabetics already experience hyperglycemia–a defining part of their disease. Type 2 DM patients may be in denial since they had lived most of their lives before diagnosis as “non-diabetics.” Education into the reality of hyperglycemia from any cause goes hand-in-hand with testing that documents specific glucose levels and/or the snapshot of generalized glycemic control from a hemoglobin A1c blood test.
Elevations in blood pressure are most commonly from unknown causes, but when it is part of the metabolic syndrome, it adds CVD risk regardless. Blood work to test for identifiable causes of hypertension can be done, and–as typically happens–when they don’t pinpoint an exact cause, treatment is indicated when diet and exercise fail to achieve blood pressure goals.
Elevations in LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides, and/or a lower than normal level of HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) increase CVD risk. Blood tests to determine these levels are referred to as a “lipid profile.” The components of a lipid profile and their respective ideal (normal) values are the following:
- Total cholesterol (normal <200)
- LDL-C (normal <130)
- HDL-C (normal >60)
- “Non-HDL,” the total cholesterol minus the HDL-C (normal <160)