It’s no secret that as we get older, we have a higher risk for developing a number of health conditions. High blood pressure and weight gain have become commonplace, but these are also telltale signs of a more serious condition called metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome occurs when the body can’t properly metabolize the excess amounts of sugar and fat present in unbalanced diets. Patients are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when they exhibit multiple factors, including abnormally high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and obesity, among others. Metabolic syndrome is particularly dangerous because it’s an indicator for major heart problems.
It’s important to note that someone with one of these factors alone doesn’t necessarily have metabolic syndrome. However, it does put them at greater risk for developing the condition. Paying attention to the signs of metabolic syndrome can help you turn your health around to protect your body later in life.
Symptoms and warning signs
The tricky part about metabolic syndrome is that patients can’t conduct a self-diagnosis. Many don’t realize they’ve been living with metabolic syndrome until they suffer dangerous health emergencies like a heart attack or kidney failure. Unlike many other health conditions, the symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome are largely undetectable without the help of a healthcare practitioner. Your doctor will take blood samples and run lab tests to measure the levels of fatty deposits, glucose and cholesterol in your arteries.
High blood sugar is one of the many potential symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Your doctor will need to run a fasting glucose test before deciding whether or not high blood sugar is contributing to your health condition. Fasting glucose is the amount of sugar present in your bloodstream after a period of fasting. Patients are considered to have high blood sugar when their glucose levels exceed 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
Another way to check for metabolic syndrome is by recording your blood pressure. High blood pressure is another symptom of metabolic syndrome and occurs when the measurement surpasses 130/85 millimeters of mercury. Another point of concern is low “good” cholesterol in the arteries. Metabolic syndrome often results in men with less than 40 milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter and less than 50 milligrams for women.
One symptom that does make itself apparent is excessive weight carried around the abdomen. Central or abdominal obesity happens when someone consumes more than their recommended caloric intake and doesn’t incorporate enough physical activity into their daily life. Individuals who suspect they’re at risk for abdominal obesity should consult their doctor first.
Additionally, metabolic syndrome may begin to show its signs in other aspects of your life. Each of the condition’s risk factors negatively impacts your body in some way, but together, they can be even worse. You might notice that you’re suffering from brain fog, persistent fatigue, mental health challenges and sour moods more frequently as a result.
Treatment options for metabolic syndrome
Treatment plans for metabolic syndrome vary among patients because it depends on what factors triggered the condition. Unfortunately, some adults are predisposed to metabolic syndrome due to their genetic makeup. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe medication to manage symptoms like high blood pressure and blood sugar as well as cholesterol.
Metabolic syndrome caused by poor diet and lack of exercise is best treated with lifestyle changes. Doctors recommend a diet that consists of lean protein, fat-free dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These food groups will reduce your consumption of excess sugar and both saturated and trans fats. You should also cut back on processed foods that have an overabundance of sugar and fat.
A healthy diet and exercise go hand in hand. In addition to eating healthily, individuals living with metabolic syndrome can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease with at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Patients can explore any type of workout as long as it gets their heart rate up. It doesn’t have to be a super intense workout, either—walks are simple, cost no money and have been proven to reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
Preventing metabolic syndrome
Healthcare practitioners argue that the best form of treatment is prevention. Adults who incorporate a healthy diet and workout regimen right from the start are more likely to experience long, fulfilling lives free from metabolic syndrome. Even individuals with a family history of the disease can improve their metabolic and cardiovascular health by choosing good habits.
The only way to catch the early signs of metabolic syndrome is by scheduling annual visits with your doctor. These yearly checkups become increasingly important among older adults because you are more susceptible to metabolic syndrome later in life. Doctors can detect the slightest abnormalities in lab tests, so you receive treatment the second something’s not right.
Metabolic syndrome is a very serious condition that doesn’t have to become part of your life. Whether you’re predisposed or not, proper nutrients and exercise are simple tools you can start incorporating right now to lessen your chances of cardiovascular disease down the road. Your body will thank you for it!