Chef Tim Says...

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Dr. Tim Says....

The Metabolic Syndrome

You might have read about the metabolic syndrome in the newspaper or heard it talked about on the news. The syndrome is not a single problem but a group of abnormal lab tests and body measurements that help identify whether you might be at a higher risk for health problems. Originally the metabolic syndrome was known as syndrome X and has also been called insulin resistance syndrome.

Over the last few years research has led to more clear definition and use of the term metabolic syndrome to describe those meeting three or more of the following criteria:

1. Measurement around the waist greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women.
2. high blood pressure
3. High blood sugar. This is defined as a fasting blood sugar over 110 mg/dL.
4. High triglycerides. This is another type of fat that circulates in the blood.
5. Low levels of high-density lipoprotein -- HDL Cholesterol (a level under 40).

Meeting criteria for metabolic syndrome places people at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack. Having regular evaluation by your doctor to get fasting blood sugar and cholesterol, check your blood pressure and evaluate your weight is more important than ever.

The key to avoiding these health problems is prevention. Beginning exercise younger and making it part of your life is key. Smoking is a major contributor to metabolic syndrome because it lowers the good HDL Cholesterol and smoking also can contribute to high blood pressure.

Controlling your weight with exercise and diet is certainly important to preventing or helping modify your risk of metabolic syndrome. If you are overweight, simply losing 10% of your weight can often lower blood pressure to the normal range. In people with higher blood sugar losing weight often markedly lowers blood sugars.

In many people, lifestyle modification is not adequate, and medications must be used to decrease blood pressure, lower triglycerides and increase the level of HDL (another good reason to keep on top of this with your doctor).

Because problems like high blood pressure, cholesterol abnormalities, high blood sugar and being overweigh are often connected by treating one problem the others will also improve. Losing weight helps reduce blood pressure and lower blood sugar. Lowering blood sugar can often have a positive impact on cholesterol problems.

Take this checklist to your doctor and see if you are at risk.

My waist circumference is _______

My fasting blood sugar is ________

My fasting triglycerides are ______

My HDL Cholesterol is __________

My blood pressure is ___________

Dr. Gourmet
February 27, 2006

Last updated: 02/27/06