The Metabolic Syndrome II
With so many people around the world gaining weight, the Metabolic Syndrome has taken on greater importance as a cause of individual heart attacks and strokes, and as a public health problem.
The clinical definition of the metabolic syndrome is as follows:
Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when a person has three or more of these conditions:
1. Elevated blood pressure. Blood pressure of 130/85 or higher is a component of metabolic syndrome. If only one of your two blood pressure numbers is over the limit, it’s still a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.
2. Elevated triglyceride level in the blood of 150 mg/dL or higher (or you are taking medicine to treat high triglycerides).
3. A lower than normal level of HDL cholesterol, less than 50 mg/dL for women and less than 40 mg/dL for men (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL).
4. A large waistline. A waist measurement of 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men.
5. Higher than normal fasting blood sugar (glucose) (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dL or higher is considered diabetes. A fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dL or higher (prediabetes or diabetes) is a component of metabolic syndrome.
The more of these risk factors, the greater the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, or stroke. Someone with metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone without metabolic syndrome.
The treatment for the metabolic syndrome is really based on two concepts: Historically, doctors tried to treat all of these diseases or problems independently. For example, we would treat diabetes with blood sugar lowering pills or insulin shots. We would then treat the high blood pressure with blood pressure lowering medication and lastly, we would prescribe lipid-lowering drugs for the hyperlipidemia. While this still remains a necessary part of the treatment, some of these drugs can have adverse effects also including weight gain. And since weight gain is such a powerful factor in the development of metabolic syndrome, it really makes sense to focus efforts on losing weight.
So the more modern and forward-thinking approach to the metabolic syndrome is to emphasize weight loss as a primary treatment. It is very common to see that people with full-blown metabolic syndrome resolve one, two or three diseases entirely as a result of a successfully medically supervised weight loss program. And while losing weight successfully and keeping it off for the long-term is definitely harder than just taking a pill to treat the high cholesterol level, the results are worth it.