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More than a third of adults in the US have metabolic syndrome, according to recent findings, while roughly half of seniors over 60 are affected.

Metabolic syndrome is caused when an individual has three or more risk factors. These include prediabetes, high cholesterol, abdominal obesity and high blood pressure, which can heighten the risk of cardiovascular illness.

Patients with metabolic syndrome are five times as likely to develop diabetes and twice as likely to develop heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The results, published in JAMA, were taken from the 2003-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study, which revealed that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased with age.

Metabolic syndrome affected 18.3 per cent of 20-39 year-olds, 33 per cent of 40-59 year-olds and 46.7 per cent aged 60 over. Of those aged 60 or older, more than half of those affected were women, while half of Hispanics were found to have metabolic syndrome.

Senior author Dr Robert J Wong, Alameda Health System-Highland Hospital and colleagues said: “Understanding updated prevalence trends may be important given the potential effect of the metabolic syndrome and its associated health complications on the aging US population.”

There are a number of ways that you can reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, such as increasing physical activity and making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and adopting a healthy diet.