Metabolic Syndrome: What Is It?

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Metabolic SyndromeThe term metabolic syndrome is not so much a disease, as a label for a cluster of metabolic disorders that when combined, greatly increase a patient’s risk for diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

The Big 5 – There are generally five disorders included, and your risks grow exponentially if more than one is present. The list varies by Physician and health organization but most frequently include:

  1. Increased blood pressure higher than 130/85.
  2. High blood sugar and insulin resistance. Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater.
  3. Excess body fat around the waist known as visceral Over 40 inches in men or 35 inches in women.
  4. High triglyceride levels. 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater.
  5. Low HDL (good cholesterol) levels of less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women.

Why two or more factors equal more than twice the risk – Consider that high blood pressure is a fairly common and manageable health condition. It can be controlled through diet, sodium restriction, exercise and medication. But if that same patient also has blood sugars approaching type 2 diabetes levels and an abnormal amount of belly fat, (now three risk factors of the metabolic syndrome) this patient has a much greater chance of cardiovascular problems because of the combination of risk factors.

Metabolic syndrome is an increasingly serious health condition.

It affects about 25 percent of adults and moves them to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to plaque, or fatty buildups in the artery walls. The underlying causes of metabolic syndrome include being overweight and obese, a sedentary lifestyle of physical inactivity, genetic factors and aging.

Metabolic syndrome is a serious condition. How to prevent it.

You can prevent the complications or reduce your risks significantly by reducing and maintaining a healthy weight, increasing your physical activity, eating a heart-healthy diet rich in complex carbs, whole grains and fiber, fruits, vegetables and fatty fish, and working with your clinician to monitor and manage your blood glucose (sugar), blood cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Is there hope? The outlook for those with metabolic syndrome can be encouraging IF the symptoms are managed. Those who thrive and survive follow their doctor’s advice. They begin to eat right, start or increase activity and exercise, stop smoking, and lose weight, all of which will reduce their chances of developing serious health problems such as diabetes, heart attack or stroke.

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