Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for a combination of pre diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. It puts you at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and other conditions affecting blood vessels. Metabolic syndrome is commonly referred to as syndrome X
On their own, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity can potentially damage your blood vessels, but having all three together is particularly dangerous.
Metabolic syndrome is primarily caused by obesity and inactivity.
Metabolic syndrome is linked to a condition called insulin resistance. Normally, the digestive system breaks down foods eat into sugar (glucose). Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas helps sugar enter cells to be used as fuel.
In people with insulin resistance, cells don’t respond normally to insulin, and glucose can’t enter the cells as easily. As a result, glucose levels in the blood rise despite the body’s attempt to control the glucose by churning out more and more insulin.
This can eventually lead to diabetes when the body is unable to make enough insulin to keep the blood glucose within the normal range.
In other words, metabolic syndrome occurs in individuals with a tendency for insulin resistance which develops in people who are overweight and do not exercise.
Risk Factors for metabolic syndrome:
- Age. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting 40 percent of people over the age of 60.
- Race. Asians seem to be at greater risk of metabolic syndrome than are people of other races.
- Obesity – generally in the abdominal region. Outwardly, this is manifested as excess fat tissue in and around the abdomen of the person.
- Atherogenic Dyslipidemia – disorders in the blood fat, with high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol
- high blood pressure – consistently 140/90mmHg or higher
- Insulin resistance or intolerance to glucose – this means that the body cannot properly use blood sugar or insulin
- an increased risk of developing blood clots – higher amounts of fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 present in the bloodstream
- a tendency to develop inflammation (irritation and swelling of body tissue) . Higher amounts of C-reactive protein in the blood
- Diabetes. A person is more likely to have metabolic syndrome if there is a family history of type 2 diabetes or if a woman had had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Metabolic syndrome id more likely to develop in women with PCOs.
Symptoms of metabolic syndrome?
The following symptoms are some symptoms of metabolic syndrome:
- Tiredness – particularly after meals
- Inability to focus properly – ‘brain fog’
- Acanthosis nigricans – browning (hyperpigmentation) of folds of skin such as on the neck, armpits, groin and between the buttocks
Most commonly, patients suffering from metabolic syndrome will exhibit two major symptoms:
- Abdominal obesity
- Resistance to insulin
Diagnosis of metabolic syndrome
An accurate form of diagnosis is not yet universally accepted. However a doctor can determine whether an individual has any of three of the following components that are indicative of metabolic syndrome:
- Larger waist circumference- 35.5 inches (90 cm) inches or more for South Asian men and 31. 5 inches (80 cm) for South Asian women
- Higher levels of triglycerides – triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL, (1.7 millimoles per liter, or mmol/L) or above
- Lower HDL cholesterol – less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women
- Higher blood pressure ¬- consistently 140/90mmHg or higher
- Higher fasting glucose levels – higher than 100mg/dL
If one has metabolic syndrome or any of the components of metabolic syndrome, aggressive lifestyle changes can delay, prevent or even reverse the development of serious health problems. These changes include
- losing weight – losing weight can reduce insulin resistance and blood pressure and decrease the risk of diabetes.
- getting active – Doctors recommend getting 30 or more minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, every day
- eating healthily to keep blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels under control. This means limiting unhealthy fats and increasing fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains in the diet.
- Not smoking . Smoking cigarettes worsens the health consequences of metabolic syndrome. It is vital for individuals with metabolic syndrome to stop smoking if they do so.
If aggressive lifestyle changes aren’t enough, a doctor might suggest medications to help control blood pressure, high blood sugar and cholesterol levels
Having metabolic syndrome can increase the risk of developing these conditions:
- Diabetes. If lifestyle changes are not made to control insulin resistance, glucose levels will continue to increase. Diabetes may develop as a result of metabolic syndrome.
- Cardiovascular disease. High cholesterol and high blood pressure can contribute to the build up of plaques in the arteries. These plaques can cause the arteries to narrow and harden, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.