Metabolic Syndrome

Introduction

Metabolic syndrome describes a group of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The conditions include high blood pressure, resistance to insulin, abnormal cholesterol levels, and obesity with excess body fat around the waist. If you have three or more of these conditions your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), is five times greater, than individuals without metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, is on the rise in New Zealand.

Lifestyle changes and medications can help delay or prevent the development of serious medical conditions.

Complications

If you have metabolic syndrome, you are five times more likely to develop T2DM or Ischaemic heart disease, than someone without it.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

If lifestyle changes fail to control your excess weight, you may develop insulin resistance, which may lead to T2DM. One of the most important health benefits of losing weight is improvement of T2DM. As it can increase your risk of heart disease, kidney and nerve damage, which can even lead to limb ulcers and amputations.

Heart and blood vessel disease. 

High cholesterol and high blood pressure can contribute to the build-up of fatty plaques in your arteries. These plaques can narrow and harden your arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Diagnosis

If you have at least one component of metabolic syndrome, ask your GP to check for the other conditions.  Blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride, weight, and glucose levels can all be checked by your GP.  A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome requires three of the following conditions to be present: 

  • Abdominal Obesity with an increased waist circumference

                        Men                            >102cm

                       Women                      >88cm

  • Elevated triglycerides
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • An elevated fasting blood sugars, or you are already receiving treatment for high blood sugars
Causes

Metabolic syndrome is associated obesity, in particular excess fat around the waist.

It’s also linked to insulin resistance. Normally, your gut breaks down your food into glucose. Insulin helps glucose move into your cells where it is used as fuel. If you have insulin resistance, your cells don’t respond normally to insulin and glucose can’t easily enter your cells. This leads to high glucose levels despite your body making extra insulin. Obesity leads to insulin resistance and this compensatory hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels). Most people with insulin-resistant are able to maintain the degree of hyperinsulinemia required to prevent failure the body’s glucose control. If pancreatic insulin secretion fails to increase adequately, impaired glucose tolerance or T2DM develops.

Reducing your risk of metabolic syndrome

Diabetes and Diet

Eating well means you choose how much and what you eat. To both prevent and treat T2DM, a diet rich in vegetables, with moderate protein, and low-sugar fruits such as berries is recommended. Small amounts of healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains and legumes (Lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, and soybeans) also play a role. Please limit or avoid sugar and processed foods, including those made with refined (white) flour. Also, avoid smoking and limit your alcohol intake.

At Southern Weight Loss & Laparoscopy we recommend that you work with a Registered Dietitian (RD) such as Helen Gibbs when developing a diet. Helen has an active interest in the management of T2DM. She can assist with personalized eating plans, including, what, when and how much to eat, which can make an enormous difference to your  ability to control and manage your T2DM.

Diabetes and Exercise

To combat diabetes, we advise at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. You can do physical activity deliberately, by going for a brisk walk or to the gym. You can also plan it into your day with easy lifestyle changes. Such as:

  • Parking your car further from your destination so you have to walk
  • Take the stairs two or three flights instead of the lift
  • Get off your bus two stops early and walk from there

If you want to lose weight though, you will probably have to ramp up your efforts to an hour or more of exercise at least five days a week. Healthy eating and physical exercise need to become habits, and once they are, they will benefit you for life. If you are ready to make a lifestyle change, including bariatric surgery to meet your weight loss goals and improve your health, request an appointment at Southern Weight Loss & Laparoscopy.  We will lay out your options and help you choose the surgery or weight loss method that’s best for you and your life.  

Treatment

Lifestyle changes and medication can help improve all of the individual components of Metabolic syndrome.  However, as can be seen in the picture. Obesity plays a central role in all of the risks factors for Metabolic syndrome. Even losing as little as 5% to 10% of your total body weight can lower your blood glucose and pressure levels.  You may ask your GP to refer you to a dietician, such as Helen Gibbs at www.dietconsulting.nz, who can help you with meal planning and healthy food choices. 

Stop smoking.  Smoking contributes to high blood pressure and increases insulin resistance.  There are many smoking products and resources that your GP can recommend to help you quit smoking.

Attend all of your appointments to help your GP monitor your condition.  If lifestyle changes alone do not resolve your conditions, medications may help.  Your doctor can prescribe medications to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and weight loss.

If lifestyle changes and medication fail to adequately control your metabolic syndrome then you may be a candidate for Bariatric surgery, so you should discuss this with your GP and ask for a referral to a Bariatric surgeon such as Mr Mark Grant at Southern Weight Loss & Laparoscopy or contact us at [email protected].

Causes of Metabolic syndrome