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Dealing With Metabolic Syndrome

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February 2008
Dealing With Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of metabolic disorders that results from the primary disorder of insulin resistance. According to the American Heart Association, over 50 million adults in the United States have this syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, which is also known as Syndrome X and insulin resistance syndrome, is characterized by a group of risk factors in one individual. Insulin resistance and a sedentary lifestyle (which leads to abdominal obesity) seem to be the underlying cause of this syndrome.

Insulin, which is a hormone made by the pancreas, helps control the amount of sugar in the blood. With the help of insulin, glucose is carried to the body’s cells and tissues for fuel. In insulin resistance syndrome, cells do not respond to insulin, and since glucose cannot enter the cells there is increased glucose in the blood. High levels of glucose in the blood can interfere with normal body processes. Elevated insulin increases triglyceride levels and also interferes with proper kidney function, which can eventually increase blood pressure. The combined effect increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Some of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome include age, obesity, and a family history of diabetes. Insulin resistance may develop because of genetic factors, or excess body fat from poor diet and lack of exercise. There seems to be an increased incidence of this syndrome in Hispanics and Asian Indians.

Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed by the presence of three or more of the following:

? Elevated waist circumference (abdominal obesity): > or equal to 40 inches in men and > or equal to 35 inches in women.

? Elevated triglycerides: > or equal to 150mg/dl, or receiving drug treatment for elevated triglycerides.

? Reduced HDL cholesterol: <40 mg/dl in men and <50 mg/dl in women, or receiving drug treatment for HDL.

? Elevated blood pressure: > or equal to 130mm Hg systolic BP or > or equal to 85mm Hg diastolic BP, or receiving drug treatment for hypertension.

? Elevated fasting glucose: > or equal to 100mg/dl, or receiving drug treatment for elevated glucose.

Lifestyle therapy seems to be the most effective way to reduce the risk factors of metabolic syndrome. Increasing physical activity and losing as little as 5% to 10% of one’s body weight can reduce insulin levels and blood pressure. Daily exercise of 30 to 60 minutes, moderate to high intensity, is ideal. Other lifestyle interventions such as quitting smoking and eating a fiber rich diet which is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol is also beneficial.

If not treated, metabolic syndrome can eventually lead to coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. If you have any of the above characteristics or if you suspect that you may have metabolic syndrome, talk to your health care practitioner to get the appropriate treatment. And remember that after you receive the appropriate treatment plan, it’s up to you to take charge and make the necessary lifestyle changes.

The information in this article was provided by Dr. Reshma Shah; Perimeter North Family Medicine. The information in this article is not to be considered as medical advice. Please see your health care provider for any medical concerns.


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