Next up is another article on major risk factors in our patient population and preventable diseases. According to a recent report from a study at the University of California, San Francisco, more than one third of adult Americans have major cardiovascular disease risk factors.

“Metabolic Syndrome” Defines Risk Factors

Businessman-Heart-AttackThis combination of health risk factors is commonly known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome risk factors includes:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • increased blood sugar
  • large waist circumference

It is seen as a major precursor to heart disease and diabetes. The researchers looked at data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) over a ten year time frame from 2003 to 2012. According to the data, 35% of adult Americans have metabolic syndrome now and the number shows signs of continuing to increase.

Minority Groups’ Risk Factors Affected

There were other alarming numbers that affect minority groups like women and hispanics. For patients over the age of 60, 50% of women and hispanics had metabolic syndrome. The study points to increased prevention efforts as a solution to lower the number of people in this high risk group.

Funding needs to be focused on improving overall health and wellness and healthy lifestyle choices for these patients. This includes less access to sugary drinks in schools, more access to healthy fresh foods in urban areas and more access to easy to reach exercise parks and recreation facilities.

No Magic Pill for Wellness

There is still no magic pill for metabolic syndrome but the risk factors are modifiable. The challenge is to find the interventions that work for each patient. Motivational factors vary greatly and it is important for health care professionals like nurses to assess each patient individually in order to find the most effective motivational factors for each and then apply them consistently to encourage success.

This is something that nurses are uniquely qualified to do because we often spend so much more time with patients than other healthcare professionals. It also opens the door for nurses-led “risk-factor” clinics where patients get targeted education and resources to become more fit and healthy.

I’ll keep on top of this and let you know about more research as it becomes available.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Increasing Role of Nurse Practitioners and Episode 347.

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