DEAR DOCTOR K: My doctor says I have metabolic syndrome. He said it's "like diabetes but not diabetes," which I don't understand. Can you explain what it is, and how I can fix it?
DEAR READER: Metabolic syndrome is quite common, but not very well known. Many of my patients have it; nearly 50 million Americans have it -- and many of them don't know it. Metabolic syndrome is dangerous. If you have it, you have a much higher risk of several major health conditions. Recent studies find that your risk of developing diabetes is four to five times higher. I guess that's what your doctor meant when he said it was "like diabetes but not diabetes." Your risk of stroke or a heart attack is about double. Your risk of dying prematurely is 30 to 60 percent higher.