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Metabolic Syndrome
As a Sign of Trouble

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on page 29 in the September 18, 2013 issue of
The Mississauga News under the feature: Health & Beauty, Medicine Matters.
Portrait of Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, supplied 2005
Dr. Peter W. Kujtan

It is a common part of my day to spend time attempting to define what exercise really is. How much activity is enough? The most frequent question that I get after completing a physical examination is: Am I healthy?

Strangely enough, it seems that those patients who are doing the most for their health already tend to be the ones booking physicals. In recent years, we have come up with more novel ways of telling you that trouble lies ahead, steeped in the support that clinical trials can provide. The Metabolic Syndrome is one of those concepts. At its basis is the notion that we eat too much and don't exercise enough.

This simple notion is creating spare tires in and around our midst in record numbers. We are not talking about huge amounts. We are talking about tiny extra calories that seemingly don't matter, but accumulate.

The Metabolic Syndrome refers to five simple things that can be used to tell us when potential trouble for stroke and diabetes is looming, using blood sugar, waist size, two cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

If your resting blood pressure is over 130 systolic or above 85 diastolic, score one point. Waist measurements of 35 inches or more in women, or over 37 to 40 inches in men, get you another point. Fasting blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not diabetic (6.1 mmole/L and above for those with access to meters) get you that third point, and you only need 3 out of 5 to score bingo on this one.

Having low good cholesterol values called "hi-density lipoproteins" or HDL less than 1.0 for men and less than 1.3 for women, add another point. Finally, the fasting Triglyceride levels of 1.7 or more, score one more point. Triglycerides are essential but too much lead to trouble.

When you are told you have Metabolic Syndrome, what then? Here is the good news. It is reversible! With exercise and better eating habits, the values will change. I don't like talking about diets and such. Instead, what needs to happen is a permanent correction in disabling the form of food consumption you have become habituated to, and a realization that walking/moving is a natural and essential part of living. You can't change the genetic part of the equation, but other parts you can.

Our body has trouble processing various sugars and consumed fats. We are seeing record numbers of new diabetics probably because our fat cells are over stuffed in record numbers, and attempting to cope with the situation produce constant inflammation and irritation to various parts of the cells in our circulatory system.

Insulin from our pancreas has a harder time of regulating glucose uptake into our cells and soon we develop resistance and the glucose floats around unused, a condition we call diabetes.

You can make a difference today, take that smart phone and spend one day photographing everything you eat, then stare at a thumb-nail page before every meal. Get a pedometer and measure how many steps you are taking. It may not be totally easy, but the change is worth it.

Related resources:

Metabolic syndrome from Wikipedia. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that, when occurring together, increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Some studies have shown the prevalence in the USA to be an estimated 25% of the population, and prevalence increases with age.

Metabolic syndrome is also known as metabolic syndrome X, cardiometabolic syndrome, syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, Reaven's syndrome (named for Gerald Reaven), and CHAOS (in Australia).

How Do You Treat Metabolic Syndrome? From WebMD.

Metabolic Syndrome from iConnect Health Centre in Fraser Health and the Canadian Diabetes Association. June 2009 Fraser Health Diabetes Education. If you have 3 or more of the following conditions, you are considered to have metabolic syndrome:
1. High fasting blood glucose levels (5.6 mmol/L or higher)
2. High blood pressure (130/85 mm Hg or higher)
3. High level of triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood (1.7 mmol/L or higher)
4. Low levels of HDL, the "good" blood cholesterol (lower than 1.0 mmol/L in men or 1.3 mmol/L in women)
5. Abdominal obesity or too much fat around your waist [a waist circumference of greater than 102 cm (40 inches) in men and greater than 88 cm (35 inches) in women].

The more of these conditions you have, the higher your risks of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Metabolic Syndrome by Andrew Weil, M.D. This pattern, sometimes called syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome or dysmetabolic syndrome, is a collection of conditions that when taken together dramatically increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome. Causes, incidence, and risk factors. Insulin resistance syndrome; Syndrome X. Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. From PubMed Health, A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Metabolic Syndrome from MedicineNet.com.

Metabolic syndrome by Mayo Clinic staff. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions - increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels - that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

What Is Metabolic Syndrome? From National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health (NIH). The term "metabolic" refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body's normal functioning. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease.

Metabolic Syndrome from Mayo Clinic.

Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X, Insulin Resistance Syndrome) from Body and Health, Canada.com. Metabolic Syndrome. Factsheet contains:

The Facts on Metabolic Syndrome
Causes of Metabolic Syndrome
Symptoms and Complications of Metabolic Syndrome
Diagnosing Metabolic Syndrome
Treating and Preventing Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome and physical fitness by Richard Poplak, Canadian Living. "The bad news is that the incidence rates of metabolic syndrome are growing, and close to four million Canadians may be at risk. The good news comes from a new study performed at the Coopers Institute in Dallas, Texas. Researchers have found a link between cardio-respiratory fitness and metabolic syndrome, especially in women. Their report concludes that physical fitness can greatly reduce the chance of developing metabolic syndrome, even if there is more than one contributing factor present."

Tips on how to avoid metabolic syndrome from EatRight Ontario. The bottom line: To avoid metabolic syndrome, change your lifestyle by eating right, exercising, quitting smoking and losing weight.

Metabolic Syndrome Linked to Memory Loss in Seniors. Information provided by American Academy of Neurology - Published: 2011-02-03. From Disabled World. Elderly with larger waistlines, high blood pressure and other risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome, may be at a higher risk for memory loss.

Low Magnesium Intake Increases Risk for Metabolic Syndrome and Depression in Elderly Diabetics by Mita Majumdar on June 18, 2012 Health Watch, MedIndia.

Metabolic Syndrome Ups Kidney Disease Risk in Elderly by Sheela Philomena on March 07, 2012 Senior Health News, MedIndia.

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