By Dr. Veerachai Sachdev, Family Medicine Specialist at Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions that occurs together, increasing your risk of coronary artery disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
- Elevated blood pressure (a reading greater than 135/85 or higher)
- A high blood sugar level (A fasting blood sugar level above 100mg/dL or 5.6mmol/L)
- An excessive fat around the waist
- High triglyceride levels (fat in the blood)
- Low levels of HDL (good cholesterol)
Having any one of these risk factors does not suggest that you have metabolic syndrome. However, having three or more of the following risk factors will result in the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.
What causes metabolic syndrome?
The two leading causes of metabolic syndrome are due to being overweight or obesity and lack of physical activity. This is due to insulin resistance, which is a key feature of type 2 diabetes. The beta cells in our pancreas releases the hormone insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels. With Insulin resistance the cells don’t respond normally to insulin resulting in a higher level of blood glucose.
The other risk factors that may increase your chance of having metabolic syndrome?
– Age. Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age
– Ethnicity. Certain ethnic groups, such as Asian and African Caribbean, may be at higher risk
– Diabetes. You may be at a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome if you have family history of type 2 diabetes or you had diabetes during pregnancy.
– Other diseases. You are at risk of metabolic syndrome if you have had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome or sleep apnea.
How do we prevent metabolic syndrome?
Most important prevention is to maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes;
- Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days
- Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.
- Limiting saturated fat
- Limiting salt intake
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Not smoking
Prevention of metabolic syndrome would also require you to have periodic health examination for which your doctor would record your vital signs, including blood pressure, weight, body mass index, waist circumference and necessary blood work that may indicate the early development of metabolic syndrome.
Word of Wisdom
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease” Thomas A. Edison
Dr Veerachai Sachdev MBBS FRACGP LLM Clin Dip PallMed – Part Time Medical Instructor at Department of Family Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital.