In recent years, there has been a surge and increase of lifestyle-related diseases and disorders affecting the American public. Some of these include prevalence of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. All of these problems are growing steadily but surely, and while they cause many issues and health consequences on their own, they also lead to deeper problems, such as metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors. Read on to learn what lifestyle changes you can make to avoid unwanted problems like obesity and heart disease, and how you can lead a happier, healthier life.
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is strongly correlated with diseases such as obesity and insulin resistance and is directly related to high blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, and hypertriglyceridemia (high levels of triglycerides). Metabolic syndrome itself is actually not a disease or disorder; instead, it’s a group of risk factors you should be cautious about, as one or several of these can lead to heart disease and hypertension. To diagnose metabolic syndrome, your physician will look for:
- An elevated blood pressure (one above 130/85 mmHg)
- Low levels of good cholesterol (HDL)
- High triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia)
- Excess weight around the stomach (abdominal obesity)
- High blood sugar (insulin resistance)
Having just one of these risk factors present does not necessarily mean you have metabolic syndrome. However, if you are suffering from a group of them, you may be at risk for heart disease and hypertension. As of 2016, the American Heart Association estimates that 23 percent of adults suffer from metabolic syndrome. The good news is, metabolic syndrome can mostly be arrested with significant lifestyle changes. Not only will you feel better, you’ll also decrease your risk of stroke or heart attack.
Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome
Just as with many other lifestyle-related diseases and disorders, there are some risk factors you are in control of, and there are some you have no control over. Advanced age, a family history of metabolic syndrome (genetics), and women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are all at greater risk for developing metabolic syndrome–and, while these are risk factors you should share with your physician, you don’t have the power to change them.
However, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help decrease your risk. The two most common factors for metabolic syndrome include abdominal obesity and insulin resistance. The first thing any patient should do is immediately quit smoking if applicable. Next, your physician may come up with a plan for you to lose between 7 and 10 percent of your total body weight, which will help with obesity and diabetes or prediabetes. He or she will also likely “prescribe” 30 minutes of moderate or high-impact exercise five to seven times a week. Dependent on the advancement of the syndrome or risk involved, you may also be prescribed medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Metabolic Syndrome Risks
If left untreated, metabolic syndrome can lead to many health complications that are extremely detrimental to one’s health. Some of these include, but are not limited to:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Heart attack
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Kidney disease
- Cardiovascular disease
If diabetes develops as a result of metabolic syndrome, it brings many unwanted side effects and conditions to the table as well, such as eye damage, kidney disease, limb amputation, and nerve damage.
However, the outlook is good for patients at risk of developing metabolic syndrome and those who already have the disorder. Exercise and weight loss are the two best ways to beat both abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome. Getting regular physical activity helps your insulin levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol—all factors related to metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Charting out a specific plan with your doctor can help prevent metabolic syndrome, or arrest your current symptoms.
If you need help beginning your weight loss journey or have questions or concerns about metabolic syndrome or abdominal obesity, make an appointment with NEW You Weight Loss today. We’re here to help you start down a new path, with the best in patient care every step of the way.