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7 Signs You Might Have Metabolic Syndrome

About 34 percent of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome, but the symptoms are so common they can be easily ignored. If you notice any of the following signs of metabolic syndrome, talk to your doctor.

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Your pants are oversized

Look at the tag in your jeans—if it says a number greater than 40 inches, you’re in trouble. Central obesity, where the weight settles around your midsection, is the most important sign that metabolic syndrome could be in your future, says Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. “A waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women is the biggest predictor,” he says. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors (abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high levels of blood triglycerides, and low levels of HDL cholesterol) that raises the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health problems. If you have three or more, you have metabolic syndrome. A large waist can also be one of the seven telltale signs of insulin resistance.

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You’re thirsty all the time and can’t stop peeing

If you can’t quench your thirst and keep running to the bathroom, it may be a sign that you have high blood sugar, a risk factor of metabolic syndrome. “Most people don’t know what their blood sugar levels are until they’re really abnormal,” says Dr. Ahmed. Aside from diabetes, stress from an illness, eating too much, or not exercising enough can lead to insulin resistance. These are the 8 things everyone needs to know about metabolic syndrome.

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You have a headache, feel dizzy, or have blurry vision

“Blood pressure is called the silent killer because you usually don’t notice anything until it’s extremely elevated,” says Dr. Ahmed. Worrisome signs that your blood pressure might be sky high is a headache, dizziness, blurry vision, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. “If you feel any of those signs, seek medical care rapidly,” he says. Blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or higher is the ratio to look for if you’re concerned about metabolic syndrome. If you don’t have metabolic syndrome, one of these surprising things that raise your blood pressure reading could be the culprit!

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You don’t follow a Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains, fish, and lean white meat is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight, a critical first step to staving off the risk factors that could lead to metabolic syndrome. “This diet has been shown over and over again in all different conditions to be very effective if you stick to it,” says Dr. Ahmed. You should also focus on reducing your sodium intake and staying below the recommended daily allotment of 2,300 mg. And don’t miss how this sugar substitute can actually help prevent metabolic syndrome.

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You don’t hit the gym

“There’s no better strategy for preventing cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and cholesterol than losing weight and physical activity,” says Dr. Ahmed. Strive to get the 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week recommended by the American Heart Association. Besides exercise, here are 30 more ways to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

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You’re “skinny fat”

If you’re someone who looks lean until you lift up your shirt to reveal hidden belly fat, you could still be at risk for developing metabolic syndrome down the line. “You’re at an increased risk because of the central, visceral fat, which settles around the organs,” says Dr. Ahmed. Fat around the hips is also a bad sign. Follow a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise no matter what the scale says.

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Your good cholesterol levels are dangerously low

If your blood work comes back with the news that your good HDL cholesterol levels are too low, take note. HDL levels below 50 mg for women and 40 mg for men is a risk factor of metabolic syndrome. These are the seven best ways to lower your cholesterol drug-free.