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Metabolic Syndrome

Learn the basics of this little-known syndrome that occurs predominantly in overweight and sedentary individuals, and is linked to a number of cardiac risk factors.

Insulin Resistance & Metabolic Syndrome


    Metabolic Syndrome - A New Spin?

    High blood pressure, visceral fat, elevated triglycerides, cholesterol and blood sugars: these are known danger signs for deadly heart disease and diabetes. So why are we now calling these things "THE METABOLIC SYNDROME," and why do we keep hearing about it?

    I'm Dr. Caroline Cederquist, giving you the Skinny on Your Health.

    These aren't newly discovered risk factors. But what obesity researchers have learned about these risks is the profound relationships AMONG them and what their presence TOGETHER is likely to lead to - very often, premature DEATH.

    Previously, a doctor looking at any one or two elements of the Metabolic Syndrome might not be very concerned. He might simply advise the patient to lose weight and leave it at that, without ever being triggered to look for the OTHER symptoms of the Metabolic Syndrome, or recognizing the magnitude of risk the patient could be facing overall.

    Putting a name on this complex of problems helps re-educate both doctors and the public, and provides an urgent, recognizable shorthand for "Hey, there's a serious problem here that needs real medical care."

    Weak Heart and Insulin Resistance

    Patients who have somehow avoided the standard warning symptoms of obesity-related disease often convince themselves that they're lucky, and they've somehow dodged the bullet. If you think you're one of the lucky few, it might be time to think again.

    I'm Dr. Caroline Cederquist, giving you The Skinny on Your Health.

    In a recent study, researchers looked subjects of various weights with NO signs of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or any other symptoms of congestive heart failure.

    Participants were divided into four weight groups, and the heaviest subjects had two distinctive features:

    Their heart function was much weaker than other, lighter-weight subjects, and they also had higher fasting levels of insulin, showing that their bodies weren't using their insulin efficiently.

    And THAT can lead to the heart disease that none of them yet had.

    The researchers are now testing to see if specifically improving heart strength and function can also improve the body's ability to process its insulin, and perhaps offer one more way to keep disease at bay.

    Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Fitness

    According to some studies, as much as 25 percent of the American population now has metabolic syndrome, a complex of symptoms that place a person at much higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.

    I'm Dr. Caroline Cederquist, giving you the Skinny on Your Health.

    Most people who have metabolic syndrome are overweight, but new research shows that losing weight isn't the only way to alleviate it. A long-term study of more than 7,000 women classified them not by weight but by levels of cardiovascular fitness.

    The group with the lowest cardiovascular fitness had more than three times the metabolic syndrome of even the next group up! This showed that even minor improvements in cardiovascular fitness could dramatically reduce the dangers of metabolic syndrome, whether or not actual weight loss was ever pursued or achieved.

    And the best part? The researchers said that fitness improvement could be achieved by just increasing daily lifestyle activity - using stairs instead of elevators, running the vacuum daily or regularly walking the dog - even without a formal exercise program.

    Given the dangers of the metabolic syndrome, such a minor effort clearly offers a big payoff.

    Exercise and Insulin Resistance

    We know dietary changes initially help more when you're trying to lose weight. But what if you're really just trying to get healthier? Researchers made some dramatic findings in a controlled study looking at how exercise alone-without weight loss-would affect key markers for health risks.

    I'm Dr. Caroline Cederquist, giving you the Skinny on Your Health.

    Researchers had groups assigned to a diet-and-exercise weight-loss program, and a diet-only weight-loss program.

    And they put one group of subjects on a daily exercise program designed to burn about 500 calories, but they also increased their dietary intake by that same amount!

    Naturally, the diet and exercise group had the greatest health improvement overall, but the weight-maintenance exercise group showed significant reductions in visceral fat and insulin resistance, key risk factors for diabetes and even heart disease.

    These factors improved for them as much as for the group on a weight-loss diet, even though they didn't lose any weight.

    It just shows again that there's no one right way to do it, as long as you do DO IT!

    Metabolic Syndrome and Cognition

    The metabolic syndrome leads to a whole array of dangerous physical problems, including cardiovascular illness, diabetes and heart disease. And apparently, it's related to mental decline, as well.

    I'm Dr. Caroline Cederquist, giving you The Skinny on Your Health.

    People don't often associate their weight with mental ability one way or the other. It's understood as an emotional stressor, but as far as brain function, we don't usually regard weight as a factor.

    There's new evidence that says we should. The metabolic syndrome develops as a person becomes more and more overweight. It actually changes the way the body functions so that it's easier to gain weight, and harder to lose it. But it's also associated with higher levels of blood inflammation.

    And inflammation of the vessels in the brain restricts blood flow. This could result in a large stroke, but it also can exert its effects over time, causing a decline in thinking ability.

    Even if elderly people have given up on ever getting their body well again, they may be willing to take another stab at getting healthy, just to preserve their mind.

    Drinking and Metabolic Syndrome

    It's probably not too surprising that over time, heavy eating and heavy drinking cause many of the same health problems. But new research seems to show that they actually cause some of those problems through the same mechanisms.

    I'm Dr. Caroline Cederquist, giving you The Skinny on Your Health.

    The metabolic syndrome is a complex of symptoms that develops over time as people gain weight. The syndrome actually changes the way the body functions, making it more efficient at gaining and storing fat. Even worse, it puts those affected at much higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

    Now an unprecedented study presented to the American Heart Association shows the strong relationship between metabolic syndrome and DRINKING.

    The researchers found that people who are heavy drinkers - consuming more than four drinks a day for women, or six for men - have a 60 percent greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome than the light drinkers who generally took in only 1 to 1.5 drinks daily.

    That's a lot of risk for some serious diseases, and worth keeping in mind, especially for anyone who's used to mixing their overeating with a couple extra cocktails.

    Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X

    Metabolic Syndrome - Do you know what it is? If not, listen closely, because chances are good that you already have it.

    I'm Dr. Caroline Cederquist, with Get The Skinny on Your Health.

    In some age groups, up to 40 percent of Americans have the Metabolic Syndrome, and people with the syndrome are at greater risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and they have higher mortality rates from all causes.

    The five identifying characteristics of Metabolic Syndrome are:
    - high blood pressure
    - low HDL, the good cholesterol our bodies need;
    - high triglycerides, which are blood fats;
    - high blood sugar; and
    - waist circumference of greater than 40 inches in men or 35 inches in women.

    Any three of these five characteristics identifies you as having Metabolic Syndrome, and once the syndrome develops, it becomes much easier to gain weight, and much harder to lose it, to say nothing of those increased risks of disease and death.

    Symptoms of the Metabolic Syndrome

    Have you ever started a healthy new eating regimen, but within just days, even hours, you already feel like your body is just screaming to be fed?

    I'm Dr. Caroline Cederquist, giving you The Skinny on Your Health.

    We're talking about acute physical symptoms including weakness, lightheadedness, and ravenous, hunger-just an hour or two after eating!

    A normally functioning body wouldn't be so hungry again so soon. If you're having these strong physical reactions, you probably have the Metabolic Syndrome, a condition that actually changes the way the body functions, making it more efficient at gaining and storing fat.

    Even worse, it puts those affected at much higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

    While the Metabolic Syndrome is becoming more and more common, it's not normal, and it needs to be corrected.

    The good news is that dietary adjustments can usually do the job without medications. Specifically, with an insulin-lowering diet, people can reverse the metabolic syndrome and train their bodies to function properly again, then go on to safe, effective weight loss.

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