What Causes Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) ?

What Causes Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) ?

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Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome; Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Metabolic syndrome refers to a combination of factors, including hypertension, high fasting blood sugar levels, and abdominal obesity that increase risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This syndrome is also known as insulin resistance syndrome. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is not a specific disease; but it includes factors putting a person at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases as well as type 2 diabetes. The aim of the present article is introducing symptoms of MetS, its causes, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatments.

Symptoms of MetS

According to doctors and the American Heart Association, a person who has at least three of the following five symptoms is diagnosed with MetS:

• Central obesity, especially visceral obesity (waist size > 100 cm in men and > 89 cm in women);

• Blood sugar ≥100 mg / dL;

  • Blood pressure ≥ 130 / 85 mm Hg;
  • Blood triglyceride ≥150 mg / dL;

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels ≤40 mg / dL in men and ≤ 50 mg / dL in women.

Having three of the above five symptoms indicates a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack or myocardial infarction and type 2 diabetes.

Treatment of MetS

First of all, goal of diagnosing this syndrome is identifying people who are prone to MetS, but hopefully, they can avoid pathogens by modifying their lifestyle without the use of medication.

In this syndrome, it is possible to treat high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and abnormalities in lipid and cholesterol metabolism disorders by changing lifestyle.

However, in some people diagnosed with MetS, an aspect of the syndrome, such as high blood pressure, has already manifested itself and they are taking medication to control it.

Weight loss, especially in upper body, can be a very effective treatment.

Specialists recommend the following steps to prevent and control abnormal levels of cholesterol and other risk factors of MetS:

Adhering to a heart-healthy diet that is low in sugar, fat, and sodium (salt);

• Performing exercise regularly;

• Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.

The American Heart Association recommends performing exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. This time can be divided into 10-minute sessions. The best exercise to start with is walking.

Pharmacological Treatment of Metabolic syndrome

When doctors find pharmacotherapy necessary, they usually start treatment with metformin. This drug can help a lot in high-risk groups. These people usually have very high blood sugar and are obese. They cannot cure their MetS with diet and lifestyle modification.

Metformin is also available under other brand names, such as Fortamet, Glucophage, Glumetza, and Riomet. However, doctors are not officially allowed to use metformin in order to prevent diabetes in people with MetS. While, some doctors prescribe metformin to prevent diabetes in people with relatively high blood sugar and abdominal obesity.

In a study (2013), researchers concluded that metformin had a beneficial effect on reducing risk of diabetes among adults who are prone to this disease, but a healthy diet along with exercise was twice as effective as taking drugs.

Other drugs are also used to treat MetS. These drugs include statins, used to treat higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Antihypertensive drugs are also used to treat hypertension. But, once again, it should be mentioned that for hypertensive people or those at low risk for diabetes, following a healthy lifestyle is considered as the first treatment step.

Appropriate Diet

The ……. diet is suitable for prevention and treatment of MetS. This diet prevents hypertension. In this diet:

• Foods are selected from healthy sources;

•Consumption of red meat, sodium, saturated fats and generally, fats and sugary foods and drinks is very limited.

•Many fruits and vegetables are consumed along with whole grains, fish, and nuts.

Instead of controlling calorie intake, the —- diet teaches them what to eat, but people who want to lose weight can consume fewer calories.

Diagnosis of Metabolic syndrome

While diagnosing MetS, not all physicians agree on the exact threshold for all risk factors. For example, they still cannot agree on the best method to measure and define obesity. Options, such as body mass index (BMI), waist-to-height ratio, or other methods are used to define obesity, but anyone who is not obese can have hypertension or high blood sugar.

These criteria are generally used to diagnose MetS. However, doctors also consider each person’s physical conditions.

MetS and Childhood Obesity

MetS can start in childhood. Besides, these children often have premature obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.

“Dyslipidemia” means any disorder in serum fat level, such as an abnormal increase or decrease.

As obesity has become more prevalent among young people in the recent years, it is better for people to pay attention to high risk of cardiovascular diseases and undergo relevant tests. This allows people to follow a healthier lifestyle and not to endanger their health. However, how and when to diagnose pediatric MetS and obesity is still a matter of debate. One of the reasons is that children are growing and many of risk factors for developing MetS undergo extensive changes.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 people aged from 6 to 19 years old in the United States is now obese, which is three times more than the same figure in the 1970s. Moreover, health of these young people will be endangered later in adulthood.

Causes of MetS

Since, MetS has been defined as a constellation of risk factors, it has no specific cause. Having central obesity or being overweight can be a major cause of this syndrome, but abnormal blood lipid and cholesterol levels, hypertension, and prediabetes can also increase risk of cardiometabolic diseases, referring to a group of risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, or stroke, and some risk factors are inevitable. Factors, such as family history and racial background can increase the likelihood of some of these risk factors. But, choosing right type of lifestyle can influence these factors.

A diet high in fat and sugar, along with lack of exercise, can lead to obesity and subsequent complications.

But, symptoms, such as insulin resistance do not necessarily occur with obesity or do not indicate MetS.

Insulin resistance is a marker for MetS and obesity and can lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. However, it may be a symptom of other diseases, such as Cushing’s syndrome (caused by the increased activity of adrenal cortex), polycystic ovary syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and chronic kidney disease.

Other comorbidities of MetS include insulin resistance and high blood sugar, involving mild inflammation and blood clot defects. These can also lead to cardiovascular disease.

Risk Factors of Metabolic syndrome

The following factors increase risk of developing MetS:

• Large waist size;

• Family history of the disease;

•Lack of exercise along with consuming a high-calorie diet;

• Insulin resistance;

• Taking some medications.

Medications used to treat inflammation, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), allergies, and depression can cause obesity or changes in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

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