WHAT IS METABOLIC SYNDROME?
The term “metabolic syndrome” was coined in scientific literature by Hermann Haller in 1975, as a combination of certain variables that increased the risk of cardiovascular disease (1). In 1988, G. M. Reaven described a similar combination of factors that lead to coronary artery disease and labeled that combination as “Syndrome X” (2). Today, the term metabolic syndrome is most commonly used to describe this health problem. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of metabolic abnormalities, that together, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke (3).
RISK FACTORS AND SYMPTOMS OF METABOLIC SYNDROME
- Central Obesity (increased waist circumference measuring ≥102 cm in men and ≥ 88 cm in women)
- Dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides ≥150 mg/dl)
- Insulin Resistance (reduced HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dl in men and < 50 mg/dl in women)
- Hypertension (≥130/85 mm Hg or on treatment for hypertension)
- Hyperglycemia (≥100 mg/dl) (4)
Each of the five major risk factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome is serious conditions individually that should be paid attention to and treated. According to the American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (AHA/NHLBI), criteria for a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome includes at least three out of the five risk factors. Furthermore, they stated that having metabolic syndrome does, in fact, increase chances of cardiovascular diseases more than having any of the variables individually (5,6). The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) puts central obesity and insulin resistance as the most causative risk factors for metabolic syndrome (4,7). Various organizations agree that central obesity, specifically waist circumference would continue to be a preliminary screening tool for metabolic syndrome (8).
Research shows that there are further risk factors for metabolic syndrome that go beyond the five major variables. Some of these include:
- Lack of physical activity (9)
- Cigarette smoking (10,11)
- Increased age (12,13)
- Alcohol consumption (14,15)
- High fat and carbohydrate diet (16,17)
METABOLIC SYNDROME FACTS AND STATISTICS
In 2015, the American Heart Association reported that an estimated 34% of adults in the United States have metabolic syndrome (17). According to a study performed in 2012, an estimated 50% of people in the United States over the age of 60 have metabolic syndrome (18).
- Between 2011 and 2014, over 35% of adults in the United States were obese (19).
Diabetes (Insulin Resistance/Hyperglycemia)
- In 2015, 9.4% or over 30 million people in the United States had diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% to 95% of all cases (20)
- Hypertension was responsible for over 400,000 deaths in 2014 in the United States.
- In 2016, 1 in 3 adults in the United States had pre-hypertension (21).
Dyslipidemia (High Cholesterol)
- In 2012, 37% of adults in the United States had elevated “bad” cholesterol or high LDL levels (22).
- Between 2011 and 2012, 7% of children and adolescents between 6 and 19 years old in the United States had high total cholesterol (22).
MEDICAL TREATMENT OF METABOLIC SYNDROME
Treatment of metabolic syndrome would be to treat each risk factor that contributes to it.
- Effective in reducing lipid abnormalities
- Low incidence side effects include skin reactions and blood clotting, rare nervous system or libido disturbances, gallstone (23,24)
- Effective in reducing lipid abnormalities in metabolic syndrome patients
- Marketed as Lipitor, Crestor
- Side effects include hypothyroidism, polypharmacy and alcohol abuse (25,26)
- Enhances the action of insulin in the liver to reduce the rate of hepatic glucose production (27)
- Side effects include diarrhea and vitamin B12 deficiency and clinical neuropathy in type 2 diabetes patients (28,29)
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
- Inhibits intestinal cholesterol absorption
- Side effects include headache, pharyngitis, upper respiratory tract concerns, nausea and chest pain (30)
Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists
- Controls blood glucose levels (31)
- Effective in treating type 2 diabetes, obesity and hyperglycemia (32)
- Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, moderate injection site pruritus, hypoglycemia (33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41)
NATURAL WAYS TO SUPPORT A HEALTHY CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM
Practices to Support a Healthy Cardiovascular System:
- Reduce or quit smoking (42)
- Exercise for weight loss (43,44)
- Balanced diet with calorie restrictions (44)
- Maintain healthy blood pressure (45)
- Regular doctor check-ups (45)
Natural Supplements That Support a Healthy Cardiovascular System:
- Cinnamon (46,47)
- Fenugreek (48,49)
- Gymnema sylvestre (50,51)
- Ginseng (52,53)
- Momordica charantia (bitter melon) (54,55)
- Allium sativa (garlic) (56,57)
- Ocimum sanctum (tulsi, holy basil) (58)
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- Alberti KGMM, Eckel RH, Grundy SM, et al. Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome: a joint interim statement of the International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and International Association for the Study of Obesity. Circulation. 2009;120(16):1640-1645. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192644
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- Calo WA, Ortiz AP, Suárez E, Guzmán M, Pérez CM, Pérez CM. Association of cigarette smoking and metabolic syndrome in a Puerto Rican adult population. J Immigr Minor Health. 2013;15(4):810-816. doi:10.1007/s10903-012-9660-0
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