Despite living in a body conscious society, Americans are fatter than ever before and it’s weighing heavily on our health.

“What we see is a lot of people with what we call metabolic syndrome and that’s becoming more and more common in our country with increasing weight,” says Dr. Brian Taschner, a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Metabolic syndrome is linked to a triple threat. It’s a group of risk factors when put together increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

“They seem to have a synergistic effect, meaning that instead of being additive they’re exponential. So the more of these you have your risk of disease goes up exponentially,” says Dr. Taschner.

In diagnosing metabolic syndrome, doctors look at five key components. Number one: high blood pressure. Two: high fasting glucose, number three: high triglyceride levels, followed by number four: lower than normal HDL cholesterol and finally number five: waist circumference, notably the apple-shaped physique.

“In patients with a normal waist size the risk is still high but if you increase the waist size, measure their abdominal girth, that risk is incrementally higher,” says Dr. Taschner.

If someone has enough of these conditions they get the diagnosis.

“People that meet three of these five criteria by definition have metabolic syndrome,” says Dr. Taschner.

Metabolic syndrome should be a trigger to take notice, change habits and get healthy.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

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