Dr. Deon W. Vigilance, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Clarian cardiosvascular surgeons, discusses metabolic syndrome and the importance of preventing it.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders, including abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance and blood fat disorders.
Why is metabolic syndrome important?
Metabolic syndrome is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, which increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Individuals with metabolic syndrome are twice as likely to have a heart attack or a stroke and five times more likely to develop diabetes. Approximately half the patients with coronary heart disease have metabolic syndrome. Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty material and plaque build up on the walls of your arteries, causing them to narrow. As the coronary arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart can slow down or stop. Chest pain, shortness of breath, heart attack and other symptoms can result.
How common is this?
It’s becoming increasingly common in the United States. In fact, the American Heart Association estimates that about 35 percent of adults have this serious health condition. This means that prevention is paramount.
What is the best way to prevent metabolic syndrome?
The best advice is to get active and live a healthy lifestyle! The risk factors for metabolic syndrome include stress, obesity, genetics, aging and inactivity. To reduce these, lifestyle therapies really are key – weight loss, increased physical activity and healthy eating habits. A desirable weight is one with a body mass index (BMI) less than 25. As for physical activity, the recommendation is to get 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week. When it comes to food, you want to cut down on saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
What should I do if I suspect I have this condition?
First, remember that metabolic syndrome can be treated and you can reduce your risks. Talk with your health care provider and always follow that person’s instructions. Even if you have already developed some components of metabolic syndrome, each disorder can be treated individually as you work toward a healthier lifestyle. With this condition, I like to refer to the old saying of “an ounce of prevention is equal to a pound of cure.”
For more information on metabolic syndrome, visit the American Heart Association at www.heart.org.
Conditions of metabolic syndrome
According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome occurs when a person has three or more of the following measurements:
Triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater
HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women
Systolic blood pressure (top number) of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater
Diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater
Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater
Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)