Metabolic syndrome is a very widespread and deadly conglomeration of health factors. It has been called the most common cause of premature death and disability in the Western world. According to one national health survey, more than 20 percent of Americans have metabolic syndrome. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age and affects over 40% of people in their 60s and 70s. Alternative medicine doctors realize that with such prevalence, this syndrome merits closer inspection.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Also called Syndrome X and insulin resistance syndrome, metabolic syndrome is a group of health issues that are linked to the body’s metabolism. The syndrome is also related to a health concern called insulin resistance. Conditions associated with metabolic syndrome include obesity, elevated blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, and high levels of and resistance to insulin. When one or more of these indicators are present, it increases an individual’s chances of developing life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease.
The widespread nature of this deadly syndrome is rising at alarming rates here in America and around the world. Millions of people are affected by it. Women are affected by the syndrome slightly more than men, and there is a disparity between the races. Mexican-Americans have the highest incidence of metabolic syndrome, followed closely by Asian-Americans, Caucasian-Americans, and African-Americans.
As noted above, age is also a factor. Although the likelihood of having metabolic syndrome increases with age, even school-aged children may have three or more indicators of the syndrome. Although the picture may seem bleak, there is positive news: metabolic syndrome and its associated conditions can be drastically reduced by aggressive lifestyle changes, including a proper diet and exercise.
How Do I Know if I Have Metabolic Syndrome?
The diagnostic criteria for this syndrome can differ depending on which medical experts are consulted. A standard and widely-accepted definition includes having three or more of the following criteria:
- A waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. When weight is carried around the waist, it is typically known as abdominal obesity. It often manifests as an “apple-shaped” figure, versus a healthier “pear-shaped” figure
- High fasting blood triglycerides (one of the fats found in the blood)
- Low blood HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Fasting blood glucose greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL
Other risk factors that can increase one’s chances of developing Metabolic Syndrome X include:
- Other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and polycystic ovary syndrome
What are the Dangerous Complications of Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic Syndrome complications are often severe and chronic. They include:
- Heart attack
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Kidney disease
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Peripheral artery disease
While this condition is frightening, if you make the lifestyle changes necessary to reduce these indicators, it will also affect the others favorably as well. Contact a professional today.