Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that include increase in blood pressure, high levels of blood sugar; excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglycerides levels. Having any one of these conditions does not necessarily imply that you have metabolic syndrome, but can put you at a risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes.1
It is also known as syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome and dysmetabolic syndrome. It commonly affects people in older age group of 60-70 years.2 People with central obesity, who have a family history of diabetes mellitus, people with features of insulin resistance along with skin changes of acanthosis nigricans (darkened skin on the back of the neck or underarms) or skin tags (mostly on the neck) are all at a risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
What Can Cause Metabolic Syndrome?
The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known, but most of the features are associated with insulin resistance. The body does not use insulin effectively to lower levels of glucose and triglycerides levels in the body. It is mostly caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. A modification of lifestyle factors that include a healthy diet along with adequate exercise and sleep can help prevent and control metabolic syndrome.
Consistent high levels of insulin and glucose can lead to harmful changes in the body. It can cause damage to the lining of coronary and other arteries that is the key cause of development of heart disease and stroke. Changes in the kidneys take place that does not allow removal of excess salt, which leads to high blood pressure and in turn cause heart disease and stroke. A rise in levels of triglycerides also increases risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Blood clot formation can block arteries and increase risk of having heart attacks and strokes. A decrease in insulin production is a sign of onset of type 2 diabetes, which is itself associated with an increased risk of developing heart attack and stroke. It can also lead to complications of the eyes, nerves and kidneys.
Most of the disorders associated with metabolic disorders do not have any symptoms. Although symptoms of raised blood sugar can be seen as increased thirst, urination, fatigue and blurred vision. A large waist circumference is also noticeable in people with metabolic disorders.3
Diagnosis And Management Of Metabolic Syndrome
According to national institute of health having three or more than three of these traits confirms the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. It includes having a large waist circumference that includes a waistline of at least 35 inches or 89 centimeters in women and 40 inches or 102 centimeters for men. The other is having a high triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter or 1.7 millimoles per liter or higher of this type of fat found in blood; reduced levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol less than 40 milligram per deciliter in men or less than 50 milligram per deciliter in women is a sign of metabolic disorder. Increased blood pressure of more than 130/85 millimeters of mercury or higher along with elevated fasting blood sugar of 100 milligram per deciliter or higher are risk factors for developing metabolic syndrome.4
It is usually managed by making lifestyle changes by adopting an active lifestyle and eating a healthy diet. A person should at least get 30 minutes of exercise daily in form of brisk walking or moderate intensity workout. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight can help in reduction of insulin resistance and blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and whole grains in beneficial for weight control and overall health of the person. Cessation of smoking is important to control the consequences of metabolic syndrome and prevention of symptoms from worsening. Managing stress by increasing physical activity, meditation and yoga can improve emotional and physical health of a person.5
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