Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is the term used to describe a cluster of conditions – including elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increased blood sugar, hypertension (high blood pressure) and excess body weight – that increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
According to the American Heart Association, almost 35 percent of Americans currently suffer from metabolic syndrome, and approximately three million new cases are diagnosed each year.
Individually, each of the conditions associated with this condition carries its own risks. When three of more of these contributors are combined, the likelihood of serious health risks increases significantly.
In fact, those individuals who suffer from Syndrome X are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke as those who do not.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Metabolic Syndrome is a silent killer, as none of the risk factors may present noticeable symptoms. This is why regular visits to the doctor are important.
During an annual physical or check-up, your doctor will test your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar, to screen for any abnormal levels. And while each of the contributing conditions can be addressed with medication or other treatments, lifestyle changes are the most effective way to ensure your future well-being.
Improving Metabolic Factors
As frightening as this condition may be, you can significantly reduce your chances for developing serious health complications through diet and exercise.
Increasing your activity levels is a highly effective way to lessen your health risks. In fact, only 150 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity per week will provide significant benefits. Thirty minutes a day, five days per week is optimal, but you can still make a difference by breaking it up into ten-minute sessions of brisk walking.
A heart-healthy diet, rich in whole grains, lean meats, and fruits and vegetables, will also make a difference in your life. Avoid processed foods, soft drinks and hydrogenated oils, and reduce sugar and salt intake. Finally, be sure to drink plenty of water.
Losing weight, especially around your waist, is the third factor for improving metabolic syndrome. Once you’ve adopted a healthy diet and exercise regimen, this challenge should take care of itself.
Avoid Other Risk Factors
A healthy diet, exercise and weight loss are critical for lowering your Metabolic Syndrome-related health risks. Other risk factors, include smoking and excess alcohol consumption, are also within your control.
Unfortunately, you have no control over your gender, age or genetic heredity. Women have a higher risk than men of developing this condition and everyone’s chances increase with age.
Regular doctor visits and health screenings will ensure that developing problems are detected and treated. Follow your doctor’s advice for medication, diet and exercise and keep your eye on the prize – a long a healthy life free of the risks presented by Metabolic Syndrome and its associated risks.