What is Metabolic Syndrome and how do I prevent it??

There is a LOT of talk about Metabolic Syndrome, Syndrome X, Dysmetabolic syndrome, etc. but do you actually know what this means?  Really, it is just a group of risk factors for heart disease, that when one person has them, their risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes significantly increases.  The current statistics are a little scary in that approximately one in 5 Americans has Metabolic Syndrome and your risk increases with age, and more than 40% of people ages 60-70 are affected.

What are the criteria for diagnosis?  3 or more of the following:
-A waistline of 40″ or more for men and 35″ or more for women (when measured directly across the belly)
-A blood pressure of 130/85mmHg or higher or are on blood pressure lowering medications
-A triglyceride level of 150mg/dl or higher
-A fasting blood glucose level greater than 100mg/dl or are on glucose lowering medications
-A high density lipoprotein level (HDL- good cholesterol)less than 40mg/dl (men)or under 50mg/dl for women.

Unfortunately, there are no specific symptoms for Metabolic Syndrome.  The problems that occur related to the syndrome occur over time, and the only way that you could really tell (other than the waist size) is through regular check ups with your HCP.

What causes it?
Metabolic Syndrome is really an insulin resistance by your body and, as stated above, it occurs over time. It is related to genetics and lifestyle (like diet, activity, and sleep patterns).

What can occur from Metabolic Syndrome?
-Damage to the lining of the coronary and other arteries, putting you at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke
-Changes in the kidney that will cause increased blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
-Increase in triglyceride levels, which significantly increases the risk of heart attacks
-Increase risk of clot formation, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks
-A slowing of insulin production which can lead to Type II Diabetes, when uncontrolled can lead to vascular changes, blindness, nerve damage, etc.

How can I decrease my risk???
Lifestyle changes!!
Weight: moderate weight loss of 5-10% body weight can restore your bodies ability to recognize insulin and greatly reduce metabolic syndrome leading any further and causing long-term damage to the body.
Exercise: 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can greatly improve your cardiovascular risks, improve your bodies insulin levels, improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  HCP’s usually recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week to improve health (and that exercise is considered, at minimum, a brisk walk).
Dietary Changes: Try to keep carbohydrates to less than 50% of your caloric intake, and eat complex carbos such as whole grains, brown rices, etc.  Also increase fiber intake through legumes, veggies and fruits. While keeping  30-45% of your daily caloric intake from fat try to eat healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and flaxseed oils.
Alcohol: Limit your daily alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two for men.

The take away should be that Metabolic Syndrome is totally reversible with some pretty simple lifestyle changes, but it is virtually silent, so you need to go for your regular check ups and keep in touch with your HCP!!

Yours in Good Health!

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