Chances are you’ve heard of it. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you’re not quite sure what it is, either. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly 25% of the U.S. adult population suffers from metabolic syndrome…that’s 47 million people! A disease this prevalent deserves some attention and you deserve to know all about it, so keep reading.
A DISEASE DEFINED
Metabolic syndrome is a group of metabolic (chemical reactions within the body allowing an organism to live) risk factors which include abdominal obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, hypertriglyceridemia (high level of triglycerides in blood) low HDL (good) cholesterol, and a prothrombic state (a state which blood clot formation is made possible). In other words, metabolic syndrome is strongly associated with being overweight and having a lack of exercise in one’s lifestyle, among other issues and together these symptoms help promote the development of coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes.
WHAT’S MY PROGNOSIS?
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If several or all of the symptoms above match your lifestyle or your blood work, chances are you’re at risk for metabolic syndrome. If so, you should see your physician and consider making some lifestyle changes focusing mainly on diet and exercise. Diagnosis can be as simple as providing a routine physical and performing some blood tests.
The NHLBI officially considers a diagnosis for metabolic syndrome to include at least three of the following criteria:
- Blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85 mmHg.
- Blood glucose equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL.
- Waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men or 35 inches or more for women.
- HDL cholesterol under 40mg/dl for men, or under 50mg/dl for women.
- Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL.
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IT’S ALL ABOUT PREVENTION
So, what can you do to prevent yourself of someone you know from developing metabolic syndrome? Follow these three steps and you’re well on your way:
- Exercise! Fit at least 30-60 minutes of moderate physical exercise into your day. This will also help maintain your weight and you blood sugar.
- Eat a diet low in fat (particularly saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol). Eat an assortment of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Also try to incorporate foods such as fish a few times a week into your diet.
- Don’t smoke. If you do, QUIT!
Even if you have already been diagnosed, these tips can certainly aid in controlling the complications linked with metabolic syndrome. Just remember, the key to control means making long-term and long-lasting lifestyle changes.