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An epidemic is occurring in the United States of America. The growing number of children and adults obesity and metabolic syndrome is astonishing. This syndrome usually end in the chronic disease called diabetes.

Diabetes carries many chronic health destroying issues such as heart disease, peripheral neuropathy, nephropathy etc. Diabetics also incur having to take a hand full of expensive medications and perform blood sugar checks at various times of day to demonstrate glycemic control.

Although it was only identified less than 20 years ago when experts delved to crack the code to the cause of altered body composition and obesity, Metabolic Syndrome is as widespread as the common cold. According to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans have it, which is almost a staggering one out of every six people.

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The syndrome runs in families and is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. The risks of developing metabolic syndrome increases as you age.

Indeed, metabolic syndrome seems to be a condition that many people have, but no one knows very much about. It’s also debated by the experts.

Not all doctors agree that metabolic syndrome should be viewed as a distinct condition. So what is this mysterious syndrome, which also goes by the scary-sounding name Syndrome X, and should you be worried about it?

4 Risk Factors of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself. Instead, it’s a group of risk factors: obesity, high blood glucose (sugar), high blood pressure, and an abnormal cholesterol profile.

Obviously, having any one of these risk factors isn’t good. But when they’re combined, they set the stage for grave problems. These risk factors double your risk of blood vessel and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. They increase your risk of diabetes by five times.

1. Obesity

Obesity is defined as having too much body fat. A person is considered obese when his/her weight is 20% or more above ideal body weight.

Obesity promotes insulin resistance, an inability to respond normally to insulin. People with fat situated mainly around the stomach (abdomen) are considered apple shaped. They have a higher risk of many of the serious conditions associated with metabolic syndrome. Ask your health care provider how to evaluate your ideal weight.

Metabolic syndrome risk factor: waist measurement greater than 35″ in women and greater than 40″ in men.

2. High Blood Glucose (Sugar)

Sugar (glucose) is what supplies the body with energy. Normally, this sugar (glucose) is rapidly cleared from the blood and stored as energy. If sugar stays in the blood it causes an unhealthy buildup called high blood glucose.

Glucose in the blood reaches all of the body’s organs and systems, including the heart, arteries and veins, kidneys and nervous system. This constant “sugar attack” has the same affect as eating too much candy and not brushing your teeth – it causes organ system decay or degeneration. People with high blood glucose are at risk for many diseases including heart attack.

Metabolic syndrome risk factor: blood glucose of at least 110mg/dl or greater.

3. High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force that helps the blood flow through the blood vessels. When the blood pressure in the arteries is too high, it is called high blood pressure.

High blood pressure damages blood vessels. If blood vessels are subjected to high blood pressure for an extended period of time, they thicken and become less flexible. This is called arteriosclerosis and it can affect the arteries that supply blood to the heart.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first number, called systolic pressure, is measured just after the heart contracts and the pressure is greatest. The second number is diastolic pressure. It is measured when the heart relaxes and the pressure is lowest.

Normal blood pressure is about 110/75 mmHg. High blood pressure alone causes no symptoms, but it does increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

Metabolic syndrome risk factor: blood pressure greater than 130/85mmHg.

4. Abnormal Cholesterol Profile (Dyslipidemia)

Cholesterol is a type of fat in your blood. Cholesterol either comes from the foods you eat or is made by your liver. It is found in all of your body’s cells.

There are “good” and “bad” types of cholesterol. Too much of the “bad” cholesterol (triglycerides and LDL) and not enough “good” cholesterol (HDL) can increase your risk of coronary heart disease. Triglycerides and HDL levels are important indicators of metabolic syndrome.

Triglycerides: High triglyceride levels in the blood can help clog the arteries with fatty deposits called plaque (atherosclerosis), making it difficult for oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart. High triglyceride levels increase your risk of having a heart attack. Metabolic syndrome risk factor: triglyceride level greater than 150mg/dl.

HDL cholesterol: HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) helps remove deposits from within the blood vessels and it stops the blood vessels from becoming blocked. The more HDL in your blood, the better it is for your heart. When HDL cholesterol levels are low, there is a greater risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. Metabolic syndrome risk factor: HDL cholesterol level less than 50mg/dl in women and less than 40mg/dl in men.

The Causes of Metabolic Syndrome

Experts aren’t sure why metabolic syndrome develops. It’s a collection of risk factors, not a single disease. So it probably has many different causes. Some risk factors are:

  • Insulin Resistance – Insulin is a hormone that helps your body use glucose — a simple sugar made from the food you eat — as energy. In people with insulin resistance, the insulin doesn’t work as well so your body keeps making more and more of it to cope with the rising level of glucose. Eventually, this can lead to diabetes. Insulin resistance is closely connected to having excess weight in the belly.
  • Obesity (especially abdominal obesity) – Experts say that metabolic syndrome is becoming more common because of rising obesity rates. In addition, having extra fat in the belly — as opposed to elsewhere in the body — seems to increase your risk.
  • Unhealthy Lifestyle – Eating a diet high in fats and not getting enough physical activity can play a role.
  • Hormonal Imbalance – Hormones may play a role. For instance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects fertility, is related to hormonal imbalance and metabolic syndrome.
  • Stress – Chronic stress alters the function of the autonomic nervous system and alters how the body processes and uses blood sugar and stored glycogen supplies. Chronic stress can lead to deposition of fat around the midsection
  • Sleep – Lack of sleep is a form of chronic stress. When the body’s internal clock and circadian rhythm gets of balance the entire endocrine system is disrupted. Poor sleep lends poor digestive function and abnormal metabolism

If you’ve just been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you might be anxious. But think of it as a wake-up call. It’s time to get serious about improving your health.

Making simple changes to your habits now can prevent serious illness in the future. Schedule an appointment at the Functional Medical Institute so we can help you take control of your health!

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Related Post: 5 Simple Lifestyle Changes to Treat Metabolic Syndrome