Metabolic syndrome has many symptoms that create risk factors for serious health problems.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome, also called insulin resistance syndrome and metabolic syndrome X, refers to a group of medical conditions that can trigger diabetes and heart disease. Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include high blood glucose, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL (good cholesterol), and excessive waist fat. There are disagreements about the cause of metabolic syndrome, but some feel it is due to insulin resistance. Insulin is a necessary hormone that helps to convert food sugars into energy. Without enough insulin, or if the body is resistant to the insulin, the blood builds up too much sugar.1 According to the American Heart Association, (AHA), “35% of adults currently have this condition”. Besides “central obesity” and insulin resistance, other risk factors of metabolic syndrome include age, lack of exercise, and women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Doctors can diagnose metabolic syndrome by measuring the waist, and checking cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and fasting glucose. Besides diabetes and heart disease, people with metabolic syndrome may be at higher risk for stroke, kidney disease, fatty liver disease, atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), and peripheral artery disease, as well. Diabetes can bring on retinopathy (eye damage), kidney disease, neuropathy (nerve damage), and limb amputation.2 According to the AHA numbers, doctors diagnosing metabolic syndrome are looking at waist circumferences of 40 inches or more in men (35 inches for women), triglycerides in excess of 150 mg/dL, HDL levels at less than 40 mg/dL for men (50mg/dL for women), blood pressure higher than 135/85 mm Hg, and fasting blood sugar over 100 mg/dL.3
Regular physical exams, a healthy diet, and exercise are all key factors in treating metabolic syndrome. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.4 The Mediterranean diet, for example, with a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and “good fats”, is one of the diet therapy trends that has been shown to improve the above symptoms, and it is “palatable and easily sustained”. It is also important to consistently exercise. There is no data showing any benefit of using liposuction to improve insulin resistance.5 Stress reduction is also important. Chronic stress can disrupt the balance of hormones. Aside from lifestyle changes, some doctors will prescribe medications if several months have gone by without improvement. ACE inhibitors and diuretics may be indicated for hypertension, and cholesterol, weight loss, and blood sugar medications may also be prescribed. Medications, however, may not be necessary if patients can improve their health with weight loss and exercise.6 Regular chiropractic care can improve overall health, and massage therapy could work to reduce stress and improve circulation. Chiropractors can recommend dietary and exercises changes, as well as nutritional supplements to help patients lose weight. Treating metabolic syndrome early is important, so that future complications do not develop.7
Learn more about how chiropractic care can help with diabetes.