Increased blood pressure, elevated insulin resistance, excess abdominal fat and high cholesterol levels—by themselves each of these increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. But when they occur together in an individual, the lethal combination shoots up the risks manifold. This coming together of adverse conditions is known as metabolic syndrome or simply syndrome X. Being overweight and central obesity in particular is a major risk factor for developing metabolic syndrome.
What are the risks associated with metabolic syndrome?
Syndrome X increases your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by four times, and of developing diabetes by as much as 6 – 8 times. Those with the syndrome are also more likely to suffer from sleep disorders, back pain and joint problems. Women affected by this syndrome are at a higher risk of developing polycystic ovarian disease [PCOD] and infertility.
How common is metabolic syndrome?
In the last decade, this syndrome has become much more common in India. It is estimated that about 30 per cent of adults or one in 3 – 4 adults have it; the syndrome is more common in women than in men.
Syndrome X increases your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by four times, and of developing diabetes by as much as 6 – 8 times
How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?
It is diagnosed when a patient has at least three of the following five conditions:
- Central obesity, which is measured as waist circumference of more than 35 inches in men and more than 32 inches in women
- Fasting blood triglycerides of more than 150 mg/dL or being on medication for high triglycerides
- HDL cholesterol levels of less than 40mg/dL in men and less than 50mg/dL in women
- Blood pressure of more than 130/85 mmHg or being on medication for high blood pressure
- Fasting blood sugar of more than 100 mg/dL or being on medication for high blood glucose.
How is metabolic syndrome treated?
The best way is to lose weight, increase physical activity and modify your diet. Exercise should be intensified over the time. The ‘exercise prescription’ should be obtained from a qualified exercise specialist. Daily activity should be encouraged. Abnormal cholesterol levels may be controlled with medication.
Metabolic surgery is recommended for individuals who are morbidly obese and are unable to lose weight or keep the lost weight off despite repeated attempts. It also helps individuals who are obese and have developed uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or fertility issues.
The best way to treat metabolic syndrome is to lose weight, increase physical activity and modify your diet
If you are suffering from metabolic syndrome, make sure that you:
- Routinely monitor your body weight [especially abdominal girth]. Also monitor blood glucose, lipoproteins and blood pressure
- Get treated for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood glucose
- Adopt an overall healthy lifestyle and take measures to manage your stress.
It’s important to focus on all the components of this syndrome for holistic management.
This was first published in the April 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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