METABOLIC SYNDROME: WHAT IS THIS?

Metabolic Syndrome (MS) is a cluster of changes affecting your body’s metabolism. It typically develops in patients with high waist circumference, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose levels. These changes are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes.

You are considered to have MS if you have any 3 of the following:

  • Elevated waist circumference: >90 cm for Asian men and >80 cm for Asian women
  • Blood pressure: Systolic ≥ 130 and/or diastolic ≥ 85 mmHg or on drug treatment
  • Fasting glucose: ≥ 100 mg/dl (5.6 mmol/l) or on drug treatment
  • Triglycerides: ≥ 150 mg/dl (1.7 mmol/l) or on drug treatment
  • HDL-cholesterol: < 40 mg/dl (1 mmol/l) (male) or < 50 mg/dl (1.3 mmol/l) (female) or on drug treatment

WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?

Metabolic syndrome is a very complex condition. Healthcare professionals believe this is the result of an overload of calories consumed, that are not used as energy, on top of too little physical activity. This leads to a dysfunction of the energy metabolism, as well as insulin resistance (inability of the body cells to receive sugar in an efficient way). The energy imbalance also affects the gut bacteria, resulting in energy usage and fat storage problems.

Central obesity

Having too much fat around your waist means that you have too much visceral fat – fat deep in the abdominal wall surrounding abdominal organs. Visceral fat is known to be metabolically active. This fat releases substances including free fatty acids and pro-inflammatory cytokines, which stops the liver from functioning optimally (and consequently our whole body) affecting the metabolism of sugar and fats, as well as coagulation.

Blood cholesterol, hypertension and other conditions

MS is also characterised by high blood triglycerides, low levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol. Also, it seems that the LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) in people with MS is more atherogenic (the process where a plaque is formed in the arteries, leading to narrowing and eventually blockages of the blood vessel). Read more about the impact of blood cholesterol on your health here.

People with MS will also have high blood pressure. It can be due to excessive body weight and visceral fat. Read more on the dangers of high blood pressure here.

There are other conditions that people with MS are more susceptible to, for example:

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POCS)
  • High uric acid
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (from these 20% of people may develop cirrhosis)

WHAT ARE MY HEALTH RISKS WITH MS?

According to a metareview of studies on patients with MS, having MS doubles the risk of having a cardiovascular event. People with MS have a 1.5 times higher risk of dying of any causes.

Women with MS also seem to have a higher cardiovascular risk than men.

IS THIS A CHRONIC CONDITION?

Health Promotion Board defines a chronic disease as a medical condition that is generally progressive and that can be managed with simple lifestyle changes. If left untreated MS will result in serious health conditions. MS can be managed with modifications of lifestyle.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

  1. Do a health screening
  2. Start a healthy lifestyle that includes:
    • Weight loss of 5-10% of your current body weight in the next 3 to 6 months
    • Eating healthily and focus on eating foods high in fibre, low in saturated fat and with a low glycemic index
    • Limiting salt
    • Being physically active
    • Not smoking
    • Moderating alcohol intake
  3. Consult with a dietitian to help improve your lifestyle and health.

At MyDoc we have several programmes that can help you gain control of your health. Contact us at support@my-doc.com to find out more.

The content in this publication is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Bibliography

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: 1640-5.

Dandona P, Aljada A, Chaudhuri A, Mohanty P, Garg R. Metabolic Syndrome. A comprehensive perspective based on interactions between obesity, diabetes, and inflammation. Circulation 2005; 111: 1448-54.

Eckel RH, Grundy SM, Zimmet PZ. The metabolic syndrome. The Lancet 2005; 365: 1415-28.

Health Promotion Board. Chronic Diseases: Understanding the Medical Conditions and their Causes. HealthHub 2015; https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/96/topics_chronic_diseases

Mottillo S, Filion KB, Genest J, et al. The Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Risk. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Coll Cardiol 2010; 56: 1113-32.

Riccardi G, Rivellese AA. Dietary treatment of the metabolic syndrome – the optimal diet. Br J Nutr 2000; 83 (Suppl 1): S143-8.

Claudia Correia

Claudia Correia

Claudia has a degree in Dietetics and has a special interest in Women’s Health, Mediterranean Diet, Weight Management, Chronic Disease, Nutritional Wellness & Mindful Eating, as well as, in Cancer Nutrition Therapy. She is a dietitian member of SNDA (Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association) and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia has been practising as a dietitian since 2010, and she has spent four years at Raffles Hospital. For the past years, she has been passionately working with her clients on areas such as weight management, women’s health, chronic disease management, wellness and oncology. Claudia has diversified experience from both Europe and Asia, coupled with the expertise of handling a variety of cuisines. She caters to the most varied needs of an individual. When consulting her clients, she educates and creates awareness of the impact of food, while emphasizing the enjoyment of food.

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