Syndrome X - Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of different health problems occurring together in an individual. Metabolic syndrome poses a risk of congestive heart disease, and it may include high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and obesity. The risk factors that are associated with metabolic syndrome were first given by Dr. Gerald Reaven in the year 1988. He suggested that insulin resistance was the key cause for type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular artery disease. He named this cluster of health problems as “Syndrome X”. Since then, other names used for Syndrome X are metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance syndrome and dysmetabolic syndrome. Now, Syndrome X is known as metabolic syndrome all over the world.

It is found that people who have metabolic syndrome suffer from insulin resistance. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas that helps to move glucose into the cells for use. People with metabolic syndrome are generally obese and do not respond to insulin. When the body fails to produce enough insulin to use up the glucose, then blood glucose level increases and result in diabetes. According to the reports of the American Heart Association millions of Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome. Incidence of metabolic syndrome is increasing day by day among aging Americans.

The National Cholesterol Education Program's Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP-ATP III) report, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, suggest a group of metabolic factors responsible for metabolic syndrome which are described as under:
·        Abdominal obesity, where the waist circumference for men is 40 inches and for women is 35 inches or more.
·        Hypertension, where blood pressure of 130/85 mm of Hg or higher is associated with metabolic syndrome. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm of Hg.
·        Fasting blood sugar level equal to higher than 150 mg/dl
·        High triglycerides level in the blood. If the triglyceride level is more than 150mg/dl, it is considered to be a symptom of metabolic syndrome when associated with other factors mentioned above.
·        Another factor that adds to the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome includes HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol level of below 40 mg/dl for men and less than 50mg/dl for women.

Causes of metabolic syndrome
There are so many factors interconnected to each other that are responsible for metabolic syndrome. Therefore, it is difficult to find one single or definite cause for metabolic syndrome. Sedentary life style, imbalanced diet, social factors, personal history, genetic disposition for obesity or insulin resistance, etc. are some of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Many physicians relate insulin resistance as the most important cause of the metabolic syndrome. Researchers have not found any direct connection between the two yet. Other factors that may be held responsible for metabolic syndrome include hormonal imbalance, stress, old age, genetic variations, high levels of blood cholesterol, abnormal distribution of body fat and ability to break down lipids in the body.

Risk factors for metabolic syndrome
A risk factor is one that increases the chance of a person of developing any particular disease. It may include sedentary habits, drinking alcohol, smoking or many more such things. If a person knows risk factors for any disease, these can help to take an appropriate decision that includes making dietary or lifestyle changes so that the disease can be controlled easily and at an early stage.
Risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome include the following:
Age: Age is an important risk factor because the incidence of metabolic syndrome increases with increasing age.
Ethnicity: Metabolic syndrome is more common in African Americans and Mexican Americans. Women above the age of 60 are more prone as compare to men.
Family history of diabetes: People who have a family history of diabetes are more prone for metabolic syndrome. Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) also increases the risk of metabolic syndrome for women.
Smoking: Smoking is another risk factor that contributes to the development of metabolic syndrome. People who are chronic or chain smokers may develop metabolic syndrome quickly as compare to non-smokers of similar age.
Stress: Stress is another important risk factor for metabolic syndrome.
Sedentary lifestyle: People who lead a sedentary life are prone to develop different diseases such as obesity, hypertension, etc. that may contribute for metabolic syndrome.

Symptoms of metabolic syndrome
People with metabolic syndrome experience few symptoms. There are different signs associated with metabolic syndrome. Symptoms are subjective and signs are objective. Some of the signs of metabolic syndrome include high blood sugar level, high triglycerides level in the blood, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Diseases associated with metabolic syndrome:
Heart diseases such as atherosclerosis, congestive heart diseases are associated with metabolic syndrome. Fatty acids get deposited in the arterial walls of the heart. Deposition of fatty acids causes blockage and restricts circulation of blood through the body. Such blockage is harmful when arteries leading to major organs such as heart, kidneys, lungs get affected. Blockage of heart arteries may cause a heart attack. Blood supply to the heart and brain becomes limited and leads to heart attack and stroke.

Type 2 diabetes: Diabetes results due to poor production of insulin or when body cells are not able to use insulin for glucose metabolism. The level of sugar in the blood increases and it may lead to kidney disease or heart problems.

Tips to avoid metabolic syndrome
If you are leading a sedentary life, you have to start some simple exercise to add into your daily routine. Sedentary life gives rise to many complications such as poor absorption of glucose in the body cells, increased weight, and poor metabolism. You can start simple yoga exercise or morning walk to activate your body and for reducing the risk of obesity. Even slight weight loss can positively help you in reducing blood pressure as well as insulin resistance. Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, CMAJ deputy editor notes that it's likely the lifestyle interventions -- the exercise and nutrition counselling helps to lose weight and have a positive effect on reducing metabolic syndrome.

Diet is another important factor, which in under your control. You can cut down excessive fats from your diet and plan a balanced diet to avoid the risk of metabolic syndrome. Reducing high salt intake is also good for reducing blood pressure naturally. Increase the intake of water to neutralize the salt intake and elimination of toxic chemicals from your body system. According to the Dietary Guidelines 2005, published by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), a person who takes 2,000 calorie per day diet should eat four and one-half cups daily of fruits and vegetables. Add varieties of fruits and vegetables in your diet as they provide essential nutrients to your body.

If you are a chain smoker, it is important to cut down smoking if you want to avoid the risk of metabolic syndrome. Also cut down alcohol drinking if you want to avoid health ailments that may contribute for metabolic syndrome.

Natural therapies have helped many people in lowering down the risk of metabolic syndrome. A study of 207 people aged 25 to 65, which is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has revealed that prevalence of metabolic syndrome is decreased up to 17 percent when patients receive natural therapies as compare to standard medications.