Ellie Brown, 47, resident of Michigan, has struggled with excessive body weight issues along with high blood sugar levels for the past 10 years. She undergoes regular medical checkups to make sure any unhealthy fluctuation can be caught right at the bud. Over the years, her blood reports have continued to indicate her blood sugar level to be above the normal range. Every time she goes for a doctor consultation, she is told that her blood sugar levels are a little high but not that high. No matter what diet she takes or how she exercises, it never goes down, nor does it ever get worse. She has been a pre-diabetic for years now and it has significantly impacted her quality of life. If you are someone who finds herself in Ellie’s shoes, then this blog is for you.
In this blog, we would find out the reasons behind the group occurrence of some unhealthy metabolic conditions (like high BP, high blood glucose level, low HDL, high blood cholesterol), how they link together, what is Metabolic Syndrome and how to overcome it. Let’s begin.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic Syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is the occurrence of a group of unhealthy medical conditions together. These conditions include:
- Increase in waist size measurement
- High Cholesterol or Triglycerides Level
- High Blood Pressure
- High Glucose Fasting Level
- Developing Insulin Resistance
- Low HDL (Healthy Cholesterol)
- Abnormal Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Increased Urine Microalbumin
Metabolic Syndrome is also a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes, heart diseases, heart attack and stroke.
When should you visit a doctor?
You should be watchful of your body weight and go through regular blood tests to track any change or abnormalities. In case of a shift observed in any three of the above-mentioned conditions, you should consult a doctor who can actually help you.
What are the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome?
Although there are no obvious signs or symptoms of Metabolic syndrome, increased waist size measurement along with the presence of high blood sugar/ glucose level, fatigue, frequent urination and blurred vision are some of the symptoms which when they start to appear in a group of three or more, strongly indicate the presence of Metabolic Syndrome.
What are the causes of Metabolic Syndrome?
Two of the closely linked causes of Metabolic Syndrome are:
- Obesity or excess body weight
- Inactivity: Little to very less body movement. Hence, the sugar in the fat cells keeps getting deposited to an unhealthy extent.
- Insulin resistance: The digestive system breaks down the food you intake into sugar which is then absorbed by fat cells. This process takes place with the help of insulin which is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin is required for sugar to get absorbed by the fat cells.
Now after the sugar or glucose intake surpasses the capacity of fat cells, they develop a resistance towards insulin. This stops the absorption of glucose from the blood into the fat cells and causes increased production of insulin by the pancreas. This condition is known as Insulin Resistance and it subsequently leads to a rise in the blood sugar level.
What are the risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome?
Below are some of the major risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome:
- Obesity or excess body weight particularly large waist size with thin arms. For men: 40 inches or larger; for women: 35 inches or larger.
- High Cholesterol or Triglycerides Level: 150 mg/dL or higher
- High Blood Pressure: 130/85 mm Hg or greater
- High Glucose Fasting Level: 100 mg/dL or higher
- Insulin Resistance
- Low HDL (Good Cholesterol): For men: less than 40 mg/dL; for women: less than 50 mg/dL
- Abnormal Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI greater than 25
- Increased Urine Microalbumin
- Age: Advancing age increases the risk of Metabolic Syndrome
- Ethnicity: Asian, Chinese, Hispanic – Americans are more susceptible to developing Metabolic Syndrome
- Diabetes: If you are a diabetic or someone who has a family history of diabetics
- Other diseases: If you have or ever had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOD), sleep apnea or if you are undergoing medication for depression or any other mental illness
- Some medications especially high dose statin drugs will also cause the risk for diabetes or increase in sugars
What are the complications of having a Metabolic Syndrome?
Having Metabolic Syndrome increases the risk of:
- Type 2 Diabetes: Insulin resistance if not controlled can lead to a rise in blood sugar level that can cause Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart attack or stroke: High cholesterol or blood pressure can cause the formation of plaque in your arteries. Formation of plaques narrows the arteries hence restraining proper blood flow which can lead to a heart attack or stroke, which is a continuum of insulin resistance
What are the preventive measures for Metabolic Syndrome?
Living a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention of Metabolic Syndrome. Some of the practices that can help in doing so are:
- Exercise or do a brisk walk for 30 minutes to 1 hour daily
- Have a lot of green vegetables in your diet along with fruits, whole grains and high fiber protein
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Zero tobacco consumption (no smoking)
“Don’t wait till the disease manifests itself when you’re being told that something is shifted is the time to take action and shift back to optimizing your health.” – Dr. Nisha Chellam
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