Test for Metabolic Syndrome Status in Teens Could Reduce Later-Life Disability Risk
Researchers at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital are looking to help teens make better lifestyle choices by testing their risk factors for later-life health conditions. The test assesses an adolescent’s metabolic syndrome status, a group of lifestyle and health factors that may raise their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that occur simultaneously in the body and can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when a patient has at least three of any of the following conditions.
- High blood sugar levels
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Elevated tryglyceride levels
- Low HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels
While these conditions alone have been long considered to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, when combined they create an even more substantial risk.
Dr. Mark DeBoer, who developed the metabolic syndrome status test along with colleagues, hopes that by assessing adolescents’ current health, he can help them avoid further complications in the future. After assessing a teen’s body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and blood work, the teen is given a metabolic syndrome severity score.
A long-term study using the test was conducted on children approximately 12.9 years old between 1973 and 1976. After recording their metabolic syndrome severity scores, they were again contacted at an average age of 38.4 years and then again at 49.6 years to assess their health. Children whose scores were high were more likely to have heart disease and type 2 diabetes as adults compared to those with lower scores.
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