Lifestyle changes may prevent metabolic syndrome’s long-term effects

August 22, 2012

By Gerald Mancebo, MD, FACP

Metabolic syndrome, formerly known as Syndrome X, is a relatively new name for a family of risk factors. Though metabolic syndrome is not by itself a disease, unless controlled these factors can lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

Signs of the syndrome include:

  • insulin resistance,
  • high blood pressure,
  • high blood sugar,
  • unhealthy cholesterol levels,
  • excess weight in the upper and middle parts of the body. Other signs include:
  • a waist measurement of greater than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women,
  • fasting blood sugar levels of 100 or higher,
  • blood pressure of 130/85 or higher, high-density lipoprotein (healthy cholesterol) lower than 40 in men and 50 in women, and
  • triglycerides of 150 or higher.

If you or a family member has three or more of these indicators, it’s important to consult with your Internal Medicine Associates primary care physician, who will recommend a course of treatment that includes lifestyle changes and possibly medication.

The goal of treatment for metabolic syndrome is mitigate or reverse these risk factors to prevent them from progressing into heart disease or diabetes. Physicians advise patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome to shed 7 to 10 percent of their body weight by eating foods that are healthy carbohydrates and low fat, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Even losing that small percentage of weight can lower blood sugar, blood pressure and improve cholesterol. It’s also very important to exercise regularly, and cigarette smokers should work toward quitting.

Your Internal Medicine Associates physician can guide you to specific lifestyle changes as well as temporary or maintenance medicines. These measures can help stop or even reverse the long-term risks of metabolic syndrome, which means a healthier future for you or a loved one.