Metabolic syndrome is becoming increasingly common. It occurs when a range of metabolic risk factors such as obesity and insulin resistance come together.
Metabolic syndrome increases one's risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A number of alternative terms exist to describe the condition, such as syndrome X, Reaven’s syndrome and in Australia, CHAOS.
What are the risk factors for metabolic syndrome?
The set of risk factors for metabolic syndrome generally include:
- Obesity - generally in the abdominal region. Outwardly, this is manifested as excess fat tissue in and around the abdomen of the person
- Insulin resistance or intolerance to glucose - this means that the body cannot properly use blood sugar or insulin
- Proinflammatory state - higher amounts of C-reactive protein in the blood
- Prothrombotic state - higher amounts of fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 present in the bloodstream
- Atherogenic Dyslipidemia - disorders in the blood fat, with high levels of ‘bad' cholesterol and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol
- Higher blood pressure
People who suffer from metabolic syndrome are at a much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as other diseases.
Metabolic syndrome is extremely common in some areas of the world.
Some estimates put the American figure for metabolic syndrome cases above 40 million.
What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?
You may recognise some of the following symptoms of metabolic syndrome:
- Tiredness - particularly after meals
- Inability to focus properly - ‘brain fog’
- Acanthosis nigricans - browning (hyperpigmentation) of folds of skin such as on the neck, armpits, groin and between the buttocks
Most commonly, patients suffering from metabolic syndrome will exhibit two major symptoms:
- Abdominal obesity
- Resistance to insulin
Diagnosis of metabolic syndrome
An accurate form of diagnosis is not yet universally accepted.
Some experts believe that a combination of three of the following components is indicative of metabolic syndrome:
- Larger waist circumference
- Higher levels of triglycerides
- Lower HFL cholesterol
- Higher blood pressure
- Higher fasting glucose levels
What if I have some of these symptoms?
If you have a any of these symptoms, your doctor can run tests to determine whether you have elevated blood sugar levels and therefore insulin resistance.
One of these is the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT or GTT).
Managing metabolic syndrome
It is important to intervene into metabolic syndrome at an early stage, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes developing.
Diet and exercise are the critical factors in solving this problem.
Weight loss, increased exercise levels and a healthy diet are the primary tools in managing metabolic syndrome.