Metabolic syndrome is not a single disease. It is a group of risk factors that increases the risk of life threatening heart diseases. Most of the disorders associated with this syndrome do not have any symptom except for increased waist circumference. This syndrome also increases the chances of diabetes. It is a very serious health issue and is very common in India. Many cases have been reported where young children are also suffering from this syndrome. This syndrome mostly happens due to our poor lifestyle choices. Nowadays, our lifestyle is very lethargic and lazy. People don't step out much for physical exercises. Most of the people have a desk job where they are glued to the screens for long hours.
Even the children are glued to mobile screens these days. Covid has also impacted the number of cases of metabolic syndrome because now people are not able to step out as much as possible. It is suggested that you should adopt a healthier lifestyle. One must make a schedule for themselves to maintain a healthy weight. Smoking habit also increases the risk of metabolic syndrome and various other diseases. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Ashok Kumar Jhingan, Senior Director - Centre for Diabetes, Thyroid, Obesity & Endocrinology, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, about the symptoms, causes and treatment of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome symptoms
According to Dr. Ashok, here are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome:
1. Increased waist circumference
Increase in waistline is one of the most common symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Waist sizes above 36 inches in women and 40 inches in men is a worriesome stage. Obesity due to metabolic syndrome is usually focused towards the central region.
2. High TGL
High TGLs are an indication that you might be at risk of metabolic syndrome. This happens when someone is consuming more fats than required by the body. Levels that are over 150mg/Dl, can be an alarming situation.
3. Insulin intolerance
People who suffer from diabetes mellitus or insulin intolerance are more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome. People who have a history of type-2 diabetes are also more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. Fasting glucose levels above 100mg/Dl can be an indication that the person might be suffering from metabolic syndrome.
4. High Blood pressure
High blood pressure is also a symptom of metabolic syndrome. It affects the heart adversely. High BP exerts more pressure on the walls of the heart. Blood pressure levels above 130/85 mm/Hg might not be a good indication for your heart health.
Metabolic syndrome causes
The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known to us but most of the cases are associated with other risk factors like high blood pressure and insulin intolerance. Genetics and lifestyle also impact the chances of you developing metabolic syndrome. Here are the main causes:
Age is one of the major causes of metabolic syndrome. People above the age of 35 are at higher risk. It is estimated that over 40% of the people in their mid 60's and 70's suffer from this syndrome.
Obesity can be a major cause of these syndrome. Severely increased weight is not at all good for your health. Obesity gives rise to many other issues such as diabetes and high blood sugar.
3. Insulin resistance
Sometimes, the body becomes more immune to insulin and stops sending sugar to cells to produce energy. Another reason could be the less production of insulin in the body. Elevated glycemic levels are not good for any organ and it affects the heart adversely.
4. Genetics and other factors
History of high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes in blood relatives is also one of the major causes. Hispanic regions like spain, cuba and US are more prone. Other factors include diseases like PCOD, sleep apnea and fatty livers which can also trigger the disease.
Metabolic syndrome prevention
Prevention is always better than cure and you might need to adopt some of these simple lifestyle changes along with advancing age. You can even reverse the effects of metabolic syndrome after you suffer from it. Listed below are some tips that might be helpful:
1. Lose weight
Losing weight even by just 10% can lower triglycerides, raise good HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels. In case you have a lot of fat around your middle area, weight loss becomes more vital. Having a waist measurement of less than 35 inches for women and less than 40 inches for men, can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome considerably.
2. Active lifestyle
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome. Start excercising daily for atleast 30 minutes. Blood sugar levels can be reduced and body weight can be managed by regular exercise. Gradually increase the daily exercise time to 60 minutes to see improved results. Consult a physical trainer or a medical practitioner if you are new to physical exercise to get proper guidance.
3. Food habits
Your food choices play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy weight and managing the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Just by introducing dietary fibres in your daily food intake in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, the risk of metabolic syndrome can be reduced considerably. Shift to white meats which is considered to be a lean source of protein rather than consuming red meats. Limit the consumption of deep fried items, full fat diary and fast food as they are full of trans fat and saturated fatty acids. Canned and packaged food items are high in sodium and increase the blood pressure levels, so their consumption must be reduced.
4. Smoking and drinking
Smoking leads to various problems including heart and lung diseases. It also reduces the overall immunity to other airway diseases as well. So, it becomes very important to cut back or quit on smoking. Alcohol consumption should also be done in moderation. Consumption should not increase from 1-2 drinks per day, to manange the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome treatment
Best treatment of metabolic syndrome lies in your hand. This is a lifestyle problem and it can only be solved when you improve your habits. Adopting a healthier lifestyle and some exercises are the only alternatives to eliminate these risk. Sometimes these lifestyle changes might not be enough hence you must seek proper medical care. Doctors might prescribe you some medicines for High BP and diabetes to control the situation. You should take care that you consult a doctor before taking any medicines because they can have their own side effects too.
Increase in such diseases indicate that the lifestyle we are adopting these days is not good for our health in long term. We must spare some time for our health in our busy schedules. An active lifestyle reduces stress and risks of numerous diseases.
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