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Metabolic Syndrome 

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Introduction to Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions including metabolic and nonmetabolic disorders, which are related to defects in insulin sensitivity, risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. People suffering with this syndrome show resistance to insulin and hence it is called as insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome X or Reaven’s syndrome.1–3Apart from insulin resistance, the other components of metabolic syndrome includes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, abdominal obesity, hyperuricemia and hyperleptinemia.

It was Reaven who first described metabolic syndrome X as a cluster of diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease with dyslipidemia in 1988.4
It will be very helpful if the disease is recognized at early stages to have an optimistic impact and decrease long-term morbidity.

Occurence of metabolic syndrome in different groups: A large proportion of people have being affected with the abnormalities of metabolic syndrome. Studies have shown that more than 70% of adults have at least one major characteristic of the metabolic syndrome.5

The prevalence of metabolic syndrome varies among countries. Studies among population suggest an age-standardized prevalence of this syndrome and are 15.7% in men and 14.2% in women.6 Data from studies indicate that high prevalence is due to increasing obesity and inactive lifestyles. Some changes in lifestyle like low fat diet and exercises would be beneficial in reducing the prevalence of metabolic syndrome.7


Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome involves several disorders and symptoms include the following:1

  • Obesity, especially around the waist
  • Hypertension
  • High level of triglyceride and low level of high-density lipoprotein in the blood.
  • Resistance to insulin which alters glucose metabolism   


Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome

Since metabolic syndrome is a multiple disorder, it includes a number of risk factors.1-6

  • Too much fat tissue around the abdomen causing abdominal obesity
  • High triglyceride, low HDL-cholesterol and high LDL-cholesterol in the blood causing atherogenic dyslipidemia
  • Body unable use insulin to control blood sugar in case of type 2 diabetes causing resistance to insulin or glucose tolerance
  • High levels of fibrinogen in the blood causing prothrombotic state
  • High levels of C-protein in the blood causing proinflammatory state
  • Clusters of cardiovascular diseases
  • Hypertension


Management of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome can be managed through prevention and identification of the major risk factors like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, atherogenic dyslipidemia and hypertension. Lifestyle therapies or changes are recommended to reduce the risk factors. Some of them include,1

  • Reducing LDL-cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels to the recommended levels
  • Stop smoking
  • Weight reduction to a desirable weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • A healthy diet to include low fat, fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Alcohol moderation
  • Restriction of sodium

Being physically active, loosing weight,2 cessation of smoking, structured diet plan,3 working out on cholesterol and blood sugar levels are also some of the ways of getting treated.

In some cases medications are prescribed to lower blood pressure and control cholesterol. Insulin sensitizers may be prescribed, which helps the body to use insulin more effectively. Aspirin can be given to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Medication should always be considered for those who remain at high-risk in the presence of hypertension, dyslipidemia or impaired blood glucose level.

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: September 29, 2012

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