Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I have metabolic syndrome, do you?

I learned about metabolic syndrome for the first time in an article by Andrew Weil in Time Magazine. Here's an article on the Mediterranean diet and metabolic syndrome from Dr. Weil's web site.

In that article, he defines metabolic syndrome as "a combination of obesity, high blood pressure and high blood sugar that raises the risk of heart disease."

Here's what the American Heart Ass'n has to say about it:

"The metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of metabolic risk factors in one person. They include:

  • Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen)
  • Atherogenic dyslipidemia (blood fat disorders — high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol — that foster plaque buildups in artery walls)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)
  • Prothrombotic state (e.g., high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 in the blood)
  • Proinflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood)"
Actually, all I know is that I have a family history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that I have abdominal obesity, and that I have (or have had) high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Moment I remember: When I was 16 years old, and probably around 125 pounds, someone asked me if I was pregnant.

When I lose weight, my abdomen doesn't budge. I lose weight elsewhere, but not there.

While my cholesterol is high, my HDL (the good kind) is also high. Perhaps that's because I'm a vegetarian (lacto-vegetarian).

I've had a screening for clogged arteries and came out with flying colors.

Here are the official stats for diagnosing metabolic syndrome, from the same site:
  • Elevated waist circumference:
    Men — Equal to or greater than 40 inches (102 cm)
    Women — Equal to or greater than 35 inches (88 cm)
  • Elevated triglycerides:
    Equal to or greater than 150 mg/dL
  • Reduced HDL (“good”) cholesterol:
    Men — Less than 40 mg/dL
    Women — Less than 50 mg/dL
  • Elevated blood pressure:
    Equal to or greater than 130/85 mm Hg
  • Elevated fasting glucose:
    Equal to or greater than 100 mg/dL
Hmmm, just took my blood pressure and it came in as 135/86, just barely above the limit. I'll have to get my other stats checked to be sure. My waist is 33, after losing the 17-18 pounds that I've been able to keep off. But I don't believe that makes the syndrome magically go away.

The recommendations are to lose weight, increase physical activity, and reduce intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.

Here's an interesting tidbit:
"Use of Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 16 weeks in coronary heart disease (CHD) patients improved blood pressure and insulin resistance components of the metabolic syndrome as well as cardiac autonomic nervous system tone compared with a control group receiving health education. These results suggest that TM may modulate the physiological response to stress and improve CHD risk factors, which may be a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of CHD."

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