If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high fasting blood sugar and a big stomach, it is likely that you have Metabolic Syndrome. It is also known as Insulin Resistant Syndrome or Syndrome X.
The American Heart Association defines Metabolic Syndrome as having a combination of the following symptoms:
- Blood pressure greater than 130/85 mmHg
- Fasting blood glucose greater than 100 mg/dL
- Triglyceride greater than 150 mg/dL
- HDL less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women
- Waist circumference greater than 40 inches (102 cm) for men and greater than 35 inches (88cm) for women.
Having Metabolic Syndrome increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 9 to 30 times and the risk of having heart disease by 2 to 4 times. You may not feel any effects immediately but these health issues will develop later in life.
What are the factors causing Metabolic Syndrome?
Recent research indicates that prolong stress can be the underlying cause because stress disrupt the hormonal balance causing an increased level of stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol in the blood can lead to elevated blood glucose and insulin level causing increased fat storage and insulin resistance.
This is fat accumulated at the waist due to consuming more calories than the body expands. So, overeating and not having enough physical activity lead to central obesity.
Metabolic Syndrome is found in 44% of US population aged above 50. Women above 50 years have Metabolic Syndrome is higher than men.
How to treat Metabolic Syndrome?
The main approach of treatment is to reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The key focus is to change to a healthier lifestyle:
1) Lose weight.
Aim for 7-10% weight loss in the first year and ultimately bring the BMI to the normal range. Reduce calories intake and increase burning of excess calories that are stored in the body as fat.
2) Healthy diet
Adopt healthy diet of high fiber with a minimum of 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Reduce saturated fat and trans fat intake and focus on complex instead of refine carbohydrates.
Increase physical activities by 30 mins of brisk walk a day for 5 days a week is a good start. Fat burning exercise such as circuit training or high impact and high intensity training will improve efficiency of weight loss.
4) Quit Smoking
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease. Continuing to smoking will undermine all the effort of treating Metabolic Syndrome.
Prescription drug can be taken to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. However, medication only treats the symptoms. The ultimate treatment is a lifestyle change of the above 4 steps.
It will take time to reverse Metabolic Syndrome, so start taking action now and reap the reward of a healthier body to enjoy life.
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