Also known as metabolic syndrome X, syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, Reave’s syndrome and CHAOS; metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions associated with the body’s metabolism and which are present simultaneously. The metabolic syndrome is known to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Risk Factors of Metabolic Syndrome
Not all the experts agree on the exact definition of metabolic syndrome and likewise, there does not seem to be a consensus about the origin of its components, particularly insulin resistance. However, they all seem to concur that there are certain common risk factors and grim statistical studies estimate that approximately twenty five percent of the entire adult population in the United States has metabolic syndrome:
- Morbid Obesity. A body mass index (BMI) (which is the percentage of body fat based on height and weight), that is greater than 25 increases the risk of metabolic syndrome.
- The aging process. Worldwide statistical studies estimate that while approximately ten percent of people in their twenties have metabolic syndrome, this syndrome shows up in forty percent of people in their sixties. It has also been found that roughly thirteen percent of schoolchildren have at least three of the components of metabolic syndrome and this fact has been linked to cardiovascular diseases in their future adulthood.
- Family History and Genetic predisposition. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases with family history of type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes (during pregnancy).
- Racial Factors. The Hispanic and the Asian populations are at greater risk of metabolic syndrome than any of the other races.
- Sedentary Lifestyles. A lifestyle that involves a high caloric intake and low physical activity as well as smoking, greatly increases the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Symptoms and Indicators of Metabolic Syndrome
The more extreme or severe each of the following symptoms, the greater are the risks for serious cardiovascular and diabetic health problems:
- High blood pressure (equal to or greater than 130/85 mm Hg);
- High levels of sugar in the body due to resistance to insulin which is a hormone produced by the pancreas and its function is to regulate levels of sugar in the bloodstream (fasting glucose equal or greater than 100 mg/dL);
- High levels of triglycerides (the “bad” cholesterol) in the blood (equal to or greater than 150 mg/dL);
- Low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL or the “good” cholesterol) (for men less than 40 mg/dL while for women less than 50 mg/dL);
- Obesity, especially when the body fat is concentrated around the waistline (men equal or greater than 40 inches and women equal to or greater than 35 inches);
- Fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease;
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (in women);
- Acanthosis nigricans.
Treating Metabolic Syndrome
The most effective way to overcome the metabolic syndrome is by making drastic lifestyle changes:
- Partaking in a daily exercise routine.
- Losing weight and keeping it off.
- Eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, lean meats and fish as well as foods rich in fiber.
- Stopping cigarette smoking and stay away from those who continue.
- Scheduling regular medical checkups.