By Allan Bucka Jones
PRIDE Health Columnist
How many of you reading this article have high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, a big belly and abnormal cholesterol levels? Do you know individuals with these conditions? This combination or cluster of conditions, occurring together, referred to as metabolic syndrome, increases your risk of heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
Having just one of these conditions does not mean you have metabolic syndrome. However, any of these conditions increase your risk of serious disease. If more than one of these conditions occur in combination, your risk is even greater.
Metabolic syndrome is primarily caused by obesity and inactivity.
If you have metabolic syndrome or any of the components of metabolic syndrome, aggressive lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems.
Most of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome have no symptoms, although a large waist circumference and a big belly is a visible sign. If your blood sugar is very high, you might experience signs and symptoms of diabetes, including increased thirst and urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.
If you know you have at least one component of metabolic syndrome, ask your doctor to test for other components of the syndrome.
The following factors increase your chances of having metabolic syndrome:
INACTIVITY: Try and engage in movement activity for at least 30 minutes, five times each week.
AGE: Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting 40 percent of people over the age of 60.
RACE: Blacks, Hispanics and Asians seem to be at greater risk of metabolic syndrome, than are people of other races.
OBESITY: Carrying too much weight increases your risk of metabolic syndrome, particularly if you have an apple shaped rather than a pear shaped body.
DIABETES: You are more likely to have metabolic syndrome, if you had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
OTHER DISEASES: Your risk of metabolic syndrome is higher if you have ever had cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or polycystic ovary syndrome.
Having metabolic syndrome can increase your risk of developing diabetes and having a heart attack and stroke. If you do not make lifestyle changes to control your insulin resistance, a usual consequence of metabolic syndrome, your glucose levels will continue to increase, and there is a great chance you may develop diabetes. High cholesterol and high blood pressure can contribute to the buildup of plaques in your arteries. These plaques can cause your arteries to narrow and harden, and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Reducing the size of the belly is an aggressive change that will minimize the risk of the metabolic syndrome occurring? A large waist circumference is defined as a waistline that measures above 35 inches (89 centimeters) for women and 40 inches (102 centimeters) for men. If you can get your waist at or below the levels recommended, you are well on your way to reduce the risk of the metabolic syndrome and all the attendant problems.
During the period of adjusting your lifestyle, it is a good idea to maintain a close contact with your doctor, because if aggressive lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may suggest medications to help control your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood glucose.
Pay attention to your body. If have high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, a big belly and abnormal cholesterol levels, you should recognize that you are setting up your body for diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Take steps to keep off the potential diseases…reduce your belly size, exercise, eat healthy, lose weight, reduce your blood pressure.
Your health is always in your hands. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.