Before moving on to the complicated question of what metabolic syndrome is it is better for you guys to know what a syndrome is and what is metabolism?
Metabolism is a term used to collectively represent all the chemical reaction that happen in the body. These reactions are very important in maintaining and sustaining living cells and the organisms.
The link between nutrition and metabolism is very close. All the nutrients from the food are used to carry out basic metabolic reactions. Syndrome means the collection of signs and symptoms of many different diseases that may or may not be related to each other.
So, syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome refers to the collection of medical conditions that increases an individual’s vulnerability to develop complex and life threatening diseases such as diabetes type 2 or heart diseases. So what are the conditions you may ask? They are:
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- Increased blood sugar
- Surplus body fat around the waist
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Elevated triglyceride levels
At a any given time, if you have more than two of the above mentioned conditions, it’s more likely for you to develop metabolic syndrome.
It is actually very common among the American population. Almost 23% of American people suffer from it. It effects approximately twenty to thirty percent of the population in developed countries.
Now that we know a little bit more about this topic, let’s move on to to some signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome. After that, we can discuss how it is diagnosed.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome
As such there are no specific symptoms of metabolic syndrome. This is because it is the collection of many medical conditions. That is the reason why a person cannot conclude that he is suffering from metabolic syndrome without the guidance of a physician.
For proper diagnosis and treatment, lab test can only confirm if you are suffering from this condition. According to the guidelines by American Heart Association if you are suffering from any of three traits listed below than you meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome.
Usually people that are suffering from metabolic syndrome are obese. The greater the waist circumference, greater would be the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
Generally the following waist measurement is considered alarming.
- 102 cm or over in males and 88 cm or over in females
Levels of Cholesterol
Good cholesterol is called “good” because it helps the body remove excess cholesterol. It brings back cholesterol from the body to the liver. The liver then removes it from the body.
Low levels of good cholesterol are very dangerous for your health. In this scenario there is a change your arteries could get clogged up with cholesterol and your chances of suffering a heart attack increases.
Tip – You should avoid trans fats and fatty meats in order to maintain good cholesterol levels. The use of olive oil is known to be great for increasing levels of good cholesterol.
- Less than 40mg/dl and 50mg/dl in men and women respectively is considered positive for metabolic syndrome
This type of fat is found most commonly in blood. Excess calories are stored as triglycerides in the body. This is so it can be used by the body when energy is required.
Most of the fats that are consumed are triglycerides but the most dangerous source of triglycerides is red meat, lard and even fat full dairy. They can tremendously raise blood triglyceride levels.
If its level is too high, it leads to plaque accumulation in the arteries. This causes the hardening of arteries and can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
If a person has triglyceride levels of 150 mg/dl or more, or if he/she is already taking medication for high triglyceride levels, then they actually meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a very serious condition. It is considered to be a silent killer. When you are suffering from hypertension the smaller blood vessels causes the blood to exert an astounding amount of pressure against the vessel walls which makes the heart have to work harder to maintain the pressure.
If this condition persists for a long period of time it can cause the muscle of the heart to become weak and eventually collapse. This can result in a heart attack or even death.
Patients should avoid greasy food and salt as much as possible. Bad fats accumulate in the arteries to form plaque and this makes it even more difficult for the blood to pass through the arteries smoothly.
- The normal blood pressure is 120/80, but if the blood pressure is above 130/85, it is in the range of being able to diagnose it as metabolic syndrome
Fasting Blood Glucose
Diabetes or prediabetes both are very serious conditions. High levels of glucose in blood is very alarming. These levels can cause complications such as a heart attack, damage to the kidney and eyes or even a stroke.
This condition could be managed effectively by switching to a healthy diet and a healthy everyday routine. Diets that are rich in fiber and exercise are very beneficial for this condition.
- 70-100 mg/dl is considered normal levels of fasting blood sugar but levels more than this makes you a candidate for metabolic syndrome
If you have any of these conditions simultaneously please consider discussing it with your doctor to assess your situation. Only your health provider can diagnose the severity of your condition.
Apart from these condition if you experience symptoms of cardiovascular disease or diabetes type 2, such as blurred vision or an urgent need to urinate frequently this could mean that your condition has progressed to metabolic syndrome.
Both genes and environmental factors play a very important role in the development of metabolic syndrome. If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension etc., it is very likely that you could develop metabolic syndrome in the future.
Sedentary Life and Obesity
Living an inactive life, without any significant physical activity is one of the most important environmental risk factors. This type of habit will aid in you gaining weight, which of course in itself is a risk factor of metabolic syndrome.
According to statistics, metabolic syndrome and obesity are linked in the following ways:
- Per year, adults who continuously put on five plus pounds have 45% chances of developing metabolic syndrome
- 22% of overweight people develop metabolic syndrome
- 9% of people with normal body weight are prone to metabolic syndrome
- 60% of obese people develop metabolic syndrome
Age and Ethnicity
The greater the age, the greater is the susceptibility to develop metabolic syndrome. Chances of developing metabolic syndrome increase 40% if you are above 60 years of age. Among Americans, Hispanics have the greater chances of developing metabolic syndrome according to a recent study.
How Bad Can It Get?
If left untreated, metabolic syndrome can increase the chances of you having multiple chronic diseases. The two of the most prevalent and dangerous diseases that you can develop are diabetes and heart disease.
Compared to the normal population, metabolic syndrome increases the chances of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases by 9-30 and 2-4 times respectively.
Other complications that you can face due to metabolic syndrome are listed below:
- Accumulation of fats in liver and inflammation resulting in cirrhosis
- Kidney damage in the form of microalbuminuria
- Sleep apnea, polycystic ovary syndrome
Treatment for metabolic syndrome is simple – you treat the risk factors. Mainly better food choices and having a physical activity routine can be very beneficial. Medicines are also an important part of treatment.
Diets rich in good fats is considered to be very helpful and beneficial in treating metabolic syndrome and preventing disease in future as well. As compared to low fats, good fats have shown very positive results for metabolic syndrome patients.
Good fats better assist in lowering cholesterol and improving hypertension. You should also consider eating foods rich in potassium. You can get potassium from supplements or bananas, dates, grapefruit etc.
The foods that are worse for metabolic syndrome are:
- Sugary foods such as corn syrup, white flour, soda
- Trans fats in crackers, fried chips, pies
All the conditions that cause metabolic syndrome respond very well to physical activity and I keep stressing that for a reason. Daily, half hour physical activity is recommended for patients of metabolic syndrome.
Exercise has shown very promising results in maintaining blood pressure, triglyceride levels and controlling diabetes. It helps you shed weight and also keeps you active. Even if you don’t lose weight, physical activity itself is very beneficial in treating metabolic syndrome.
If these changes don’t work for you, don’t worry medicines are still there to help you. There are many medicines available to treat hypertension and diabetes.
But no matter what your stage of metabolic syndrome it is always best to consult a doctor. Your doctor can also recommend the best medication based on your cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as other factors.
Glucophage is used to maintain normal blood glucose levels. He may also prescribe you to use aspirin to avoid the risk of stroke or heart attack.
Unfortunately, the treatment of metabolic syndrome could involve frequent visits to the doctor and repeated lab tests. You should be very vigilant and visit the doctor regularly. A lifelong commitment to healthy habits is very crucial for you to effectively manage metabolic syndrome.
I hope you now have a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome. I look forward to reading and replying to your comments below. Share your thoughts and experiences with others here today.