Are you at risk?
Formerly called Syndrome X, metabolic syndrome is the new term used to describe a group of health conditions that together increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, and poor leg circulation. The health conditions that fall under the metabolic syndrome umbrella include high blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol and excess fat around the waist-all of which affect your metabolism. If you have only one of these conditions, you don’t have metabolic syndrome, though you’re at increased risk of developing a range of diseases.
But once you find yourself living with three or more metabolic conditions, you have metabolic syndrome and your chances of developing a serious disease are even greater. Don’t lose heart, though, because there’s good news! Aggressive lifestyle changes of exercise and diet (and taking certain medications if required) can improve your condition or even prevent it altogether.
Signs and Tests
If you know you have at least one health risk connected to metabolic syndrome, visit your physician. Chances are, if you have one condition, you may have another one hiding beneath the surface. By visiting your physician, you can undergo appropriate testing for the other conditions that would cause you to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
Obesity for a person with metabolic syndrome is determined by the amount of fat around the waist. If a man’s waist circumference is 40 inches or greater or if a woman’s waist measures 35 inches or greater, he or she has an apple-shaped body and is considered at risk for metabolic syndrome.
A second risk factor is high blood pressure. If your systolic (top number) blood pressure measures 130 mm Hg or higher, or your diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure measures 85 mm Hg or higher, you have high blood pressure.
The third risk, high blood sugar is determined by a fasting blood glucose test. If the results show your blood sugar is 100 mg/dL or greater, you’re also at risk.
Lastly, you’re at risk for metabolic syndrome if you have high cholesterol. If your glycerides are 150 mg/dL or greater and if your HDL (good) cholesterol levels are less than 40 mg/dL (for men) or 50 mg/dL (for women) you have high cholesterol.
Metabolic syndrome is related to your metabolism, which consists of all the chemical and physical bodily functions that use or convert energy. This includes breathing, circulation, muscle contraction, digestion, brain function, and body temperature control.
Metabolic syndrome is a symptom of insulin resistance. In a healthy body, insulin helps control blood sugar levels. When obesity, lack of exercise, genetics, and environmental factors result in insulin resistance, the end result can be dangerous and even deadly.
As cells resist insulin, they can’t use sugar as efficiently and the sugar levels in your blood rise. This causes more insulin to be produced. If your body can’t produce enough insulin to control blood sugar, you’re on your way to developing diabetes.
Elevated insulin levels increase your glycerides and blood fat levels. It also leads to high blood pressure. The combination of these problems increases your risk of not only diabetes, but heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and circulation problems as well.
You Can Overcome!
Have one or more of the conditions under the metabolic syndrome umbrella? Don’t resign yourself to a life at risk for serious disease. Do something about it! Eating a healthy, fiber-rich diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fish), getting regular exercise (at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day), losing weight (at least 5 to 10 percent of your current weight), and quitting smoking can do wonders in reducing LDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
Get regular medical checkups to check on your progress. If following these lifestyle changes doesn’t giving you the desired outcome, your doctor may need to prescribe blood pressure lowering medications or medications to control your cholesterol. Taking an aspirin each day may also help reduce your risk for stroke and heart attack.
No matter what steps you take, keep walking forward. Because your good health is worth working and fighting for!
It is estimated that as many as one out of every four people in the world suffer from metabolic syndrome. Could you be one of them?