Treating And Managing Metabolic Syndrome

October 26, 2023

Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a particular set of symptoms and risk factors that combine to increase a patient's chances of having a stroke, developing cardiovascular disease, and becoming diabetic. Metabolic syndrome is also known as Syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, and dysmetabolic syndrome. Currently, risk factors associated with the condition include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose readings, elevated triglycerides, and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Abdominal obesity is classified as having a waist larger than forty inches for males or thirty-five inches for females.

New guidelines now define high blood pressure as anything higher than 130 systolic over 85 diastolic, and fasting glucose readings are considered high if they are more than one hundred. Triglyceride readings of 150 or higher are categorized as elevated, and HDL cholesterol is deemed to be low if it is less than forty for males or fifty for females. A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome is made if a patient presents with three or more of these aforementioned risks, and the condition commonly runs in families. Approximately twenty-three percent of American adults have received a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, and the likelihood of getting the condition increases with age. An estimated forty percent of Americans in their sixties and seventies have metabolic syndrome. The syndrome can be prevented and managed with lifestyle modification and medication.

Underlying Cause Treatment

Treating the underlying cause is the most important step in preventing, managing, and even reversing metabolic syndrome. This involves regular checkups, lifestyle changes, and possibly the use of medication. Periodic checkups with a nurse practitioner or physician provide support for patients and can be used to monitor weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol readings. Knowing these measurements and having them assessed at regular intervals can empower patients to make positive changes that may reduce the severity of their condition and could eventually eliminate some risk factors.

Although the exact causes of metabolic syndrome are unknown, insulin resistance is believed to play a major role. In addition to losing weight, lowering blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels, can all be effective methods for improving the body's sensitivity to insulin and treating metabolic syndrome. If lifestyle modifications are not enough, medications are available that can help with weight loss and bring blood pressure and blood markers under control.

A Healthy Balanced Diet

Adopting a healthy balanced diet can make a major difference in the prevention and management of metabolic syndrome. Fortunately, diet is one of the most modifiable lifestyle factors. Generally, a healthy diet is comprised largely of plant-based, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. Examples of whole grains include brown rice and whole wheat bread or pasta. Fish, lean meats, and unsaturated fats can be incorporated in moderation. Oils, refined sugars, saturated fats, and fried foods should be limited. Experts recommend avoiding diet soda, which is associated with the development of metabolic syndrome.

To gain the most control over ingredients, patients with metabolic syndrome should aim to eat more of their meals at home and avoid fast food. If convenience foods must be used, patients need to read the nutrition labels, checking carefully for saturated fat and sugar content. Extensive studies have shown patients who eat a healthy balanced diet have a lower risk of both metabolic syndrome and the diseases associated with it such as heart disease and diabetes.

Sustainable Exercise Regime

Studies have shown exercise makes the body more responsive to insulin, increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing blood glucose. Thus, developing a sustainable exercise regime can help individuals at risk for metabolic syndrome to lower their risk, and patients with the disease can also improve their quality of life and potentially reverse some of their symptoms with exercise. In one study, a single exercise session was shown to increase the body's response to insulin for up to sixteen hours after the exercise session. However, for exercise to have a lasting impact on a patient's insulin sensitivity, it is essential for it to be done regularly. Patients with metabolic syndrome should try to build a sustainable exercise regime of exercises they enjoy.

The American Heart Association recommends patients do a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise each week. Moderate and vigorous exercise have both been shown to have beneficial effects. Moderate activity elevates an individual's heart rate to fifty to seventy percent of their maximum heart rate. During vigorous activity, an individual's heart rate will reach between seventy to eighty-five percent of their maximum heart rate. The combination of aerobic exercises such as walking or running with strength training exercises using weights or elastic bands has been shown to be especially effective for controlling metabolic syndrome.

Prevent Development Of Type 2 Diabetes

Since insulin has such a central role in metabolic syndrome, taking steps to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes is essential in the prevention of metabolic syndrome. Similar lifestyle factors influence both of these diseases and maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol, and eating a diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can decrease an individual's risk of both conditions.

Limiting fast food, sugary drinks, processed meats, and diet sodas enables individuals to better manage blood sugar numbers. Patients who have a family history of diabetes or who are newly diagnosed diabetics often benefit from nutrition counseling, and medications can help with blood sugar control as well.

Treat Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Cardiovascular risk factors for metabolic syndrome include obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Integrating a healthy diet with an exercise program, getting nutritional or health coaching, and seeking support from healthcare professionals may help patients treat cardiovascular risk factors. Some patients may need multiple medications to effectively control their cardiovascular risk; for example, medications to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol may be needed, and some patients may also benefit from weight loss medication.

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