Metabolic Syndrome Tests: How to Determine If You’re At Risk

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

I’m often asked by readers if they could have metabolic syndrome. This is an excellent question. Metabolic syndrome, as you likely know, is a precursor to diabetes, kidney disease, and coronary artery disease—so it’s not something you want to leave unchecked. But figuring out if you have metabolic syndrome can be tricky.

Most signs of metabolic syndrome are “silent,” including abnormalities in insulin, blood pressure, and cholesterol. But there is one telltale sign—a large waist—which too many people ignore at their own peril.

There’s a Simple Metabolic Syndrome Test

If you think you might have metabolic syndrome, you want to ask your doctor to check for albumin in your urine. I’m sure your doctor is already familiar with this test, but he or she may not realize that it has been identified as a marker of metabolic syndrome.

What is albumin? It’s a protein that should stay in your blood and not build up in your urine. It is usually measured in a ratio with creatinine, a by-product of normal muscle breakdown. More than 30 milligrams of albumin per gram of creatinine in a single urine test is a common marker of metabolic syndrome. Plus, the test result is also believed to forecast the development of kidney and coronary artery disease.

You Can Also Test for It Right at Home

Wrap a cloth tape measure around your abdomen, just above the hip bone. Keep the tape snug and measure your waist while breathing out, with your abdomen relaxed. These waist sizes indicate metabolic syndrome: 35 inches or more for a woman and 40 inches or more for a man.

Belly fat is both unsightly and harmful. This particular fat secretes a steady stream of chemicals that kindle inflammation throughout the body, damaging the lining of arterial walls, including the coronary arteries and blood vessels in the kidneys.

If your waist girth exceeds the metabolic syndrome limits, please get your urine albumin checked and improve your lifestyle. If your waist size is smaller but you have a family history of diabetes, I also recommend getting the albumin test because in some people, metabolic syndrome can occur without a large waist. In both situations, you can control the condition by being more physically active and eating less sugary, starchy, and processed food.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any questions about metabolic syndrome?

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