What is metabolic syndrome and can it be treated?

When the term "metabolic syndrome" is mentioned, you immediately wonder: what is metabolic syndrome

Explains Dr.Carla St. Andre, an endocrinologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, "metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome or Syndrome X, is a combination of several conditions that — together — increase a person's risk of developing diabetes and increased heart disease,".

The prevalence of this syndrome is increasing worldwide, about a third of the US population suffers from metabolic syndrome. The rates of risk of developing this syndrome are equal in men and women.

Metabolic syndrome includes such health problems as:

  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • Excess fat around the waistline (visceral abdominal obesity)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High level of triglycerides
  • Low levels of good cholesterol

"If the doctor has put a diagnosis that you have metabolic syndrome, it is important to take the necessary measures. By changing the lifestyle and taking the necessary medications, the metabolic syndrome can be treated, reducing the risk of developing more serious health conditions."

Whether you have a family history of metabolic syndrome, or you've just been diagnosed, here's everything you need to know to better understand the condition, and five steps you can take to prevent or possibly treat the syndrome.

Why is metabolic syndrome a serious pathological condition 

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a state of cellular resistance to insulin, a hormone that is important for converting the sugar you eat into the energy needed to nourish the body.

Dr. explains. Saint-Andre "among other very important functions of insulin, it helps the sugar present in the bloodstream to enter the cells, where it is then stored or converted into energy. But if the cells become less responsive to insulin, sugar will have difficulty getting into the cells, which leads to higher sugar levels in the bloodstream," he said.

The lack of response to insulin leads to the development of chronic systemic infections, and it can have other significant effects on the body, including:

  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Weight gain
  • Worsening of insulin resistance
  • Adds Dr." Being overweight, especially excessive visceral fat gain, worsens inflammation, which leads to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream," Saint-Andre said.

Metabolic syndrome is associated with a wide range of diseases, including:

  • Type II diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Gallstones
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS )
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Gout 

How is the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome

To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, it takes more than just suffering from high blood sugar or an increase in abdominal fat. This is because this syndrome is a complex of metabolic disorders, and a person must have several concomitant health problems to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

The criteria for diagnosing the development of metabolic syndrome include suffering from:

  • Fasting glucose imbalance – high blood sugar) - so that it is 100 mg/ dL or more
  • Increased belly fat – with a BMI measurement of 30 or more and/or a waist circumference measurement greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women
  • High blood pressure – 135/80 mm Hg or more
  • High triglyceride content so that it is 150 mg/ dL or more

Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as good cholesterol – so that they are less than 40 mg/ dL in men or less than 50 mg/ dL in as Dr. "If a person meets three of these five criteria, he or she is considered to have metabolic syndrome, "Saint-Andre said.

Can metabolic syndrome be treated?

Metabolic syndrome may come on its own without being accompanied by any symptoms, but serious health conditions that occur silently within this syndrome can lead to severe complications.

For example, the symptoms of diabetes mellitus can range from unpleasant (increased thirst and urge to urinate) to severe (blurred vision, difficulty healing wounds, increased risk of infection). And let's not forget about the increased risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Remember Dr."There are many risk factors for the development of metabolic syndrome, many of which can be modified — leading to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream," Saint-Andre said.

However, Dr. Saint Andre believes that if your family has suffered from several concomitant conditions of this syndrome, such as Type II diabetes mellitus or obesity, you will need to make more effort to prevent it than a person who does not have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

And if you already have significant damage to the heart, blood vessels, and other organs, it will be difficult to cure the metabolic syndrome.

Says Dr. "That is why it is so important to prevent the development of metabolic syndrome or to get treatment as soon as possible, which leads to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream, "Saint-Andre said.

If your doctor has warned you about or diagnosed you with metabolic syndrome, you should follow these important steps to prevent or treat it:

1. Losing weight and/or maintaining a healthy weight

A study conducted at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases showed that even a small weight loss — 5 to 7% of body weight — can more than halve the chance of developing diabetes.

Remember Dr." In particular, visceral fat located along the waistline contributes to the development of systemic infections, which leads to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream," Saint-Andre said. "Popular ways to reduce fat — diet, and exercise — will also help you lose inflammatory-causing visceral fat."

When it comes to losing weight, a set of aerobic cardio exercises should be practiced for at least 30 minutes five days a week, and strength training for two or three days a week. While aerobic cardio can help you burn more calories while exercising, the muscles that are built during strength training can also help boost your metabolism so that you burn calories even if you don't exercise.

She also adds to Dr.Saint Andre's "strength training doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds. Suggest starting with bodyweight exercises, which are movements based on your body weight, which causes sugar levels in the bloodstream to rise," he said.

2. Eat healthy food

A healthy diet can help you avoid an increase in blood sugar, lower your blood pressure, and lose weight — all of which can help prevent or treat metabolic syndrome.

Explains Dr." A healthy diet includes more fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, a moderate amount of unsaturated fats, and fat-free protein sources leading to higher sugar levels in the bloodstream, "Saint-Andre said.

When eating healthy food, there are also foods that you will want to try to reduce, such as:

  1. Sugary drinks and snacks
  2. Meals with a high salt content
  3. unhealthy fats, including trans and saturated fats
  4. Alcohol

3. Increase movement, and reduce periods of sitting

Believe it or not, lack of physical activity (usually measured by counting how many hours a person sits per day) is associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus.

So, it's time to ask yourself: Do you sit for long periods

Explains Dr." Physical activity is associated with a range of health benefits, leading to higher levels of sugar in the bloodstream, "Saint-Andre said. "The recommended amount of physical activity each day is 30 minutes, and this can be as simple as going for a brisk walk or deciding to take the stairs instead of taking the elevator."

4. Knowledge of family medical history

Your family may already "suffer" from metabolic syndrome, as well as several individual conditions that include it — this means that the genes you have inherited can affect the risk of developing this syndrome.

Says Dr.Saint Andre "and although some risk factors can be modified, the presence of a genetic predisposition to metabolic syndrome is something that cannot be changed. This does not mean that you will develop this syndrome, but it only means that you may be more susceptible to it, which leads to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream," he said.

The easiest way to find out if you have a genetic predisposition to this syndrome is to find out the family medical history.

5. Maintaining your health

If you have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, the doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as an endocrinologist — a doctor who specializes in treating endocrine disorders such as diabetes mellitus — or a cardiologist.

Recommends Dr." St. Andre should be careful to visit a doctor or specialist regularly, take any medications he may prescribe or prescribe, and continue to implement the lifestyle choices mentioned above, which leads to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream,".

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