The metabolic syndrome consists of the grouping of a series of metabolic alterations (elevation of glucose and triglycerides, lowering of good cholesterol, increased blood pressure and predominantly abdominal obesity) in a specific person. These alterations give that person a greater risk of developing cardiovascular complications and diabetes.
It is a very common disease, more common in elderly people, which will increase even more in the coming years.
What are the causes of metabolic syndrome?
The causes of metabolic syndrome are complex and not well understood. It probably occurs in people with a genetic predisposition who develop the disease after gaining weight or leading a sedentary life. More than half of people with metabolic syndrome have a body mass index greater than 30 kg / m2 (that is, they are obese). Apparently predominantly intra-abdominal obesity (visceral obesity) is more related to this disease, probably because the fat inside the abdomen is more metabolically active.
However, not all obese patients have a metabolic syndrome. And, on the contrary, there are thin people with metabolic syndrome. What seems quite common in most patients with metabolic syndrome is that they have an alteration called “insulin resistance”. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that is responsible, among other actions, for controlling the level of sugar in the blood. In patients with metabolic syndrome, the ability of insulin to introduce sugar (glucose) into the cells is altered, that is, these patients have resistance to the action of insulin, an alteration that can account for several of the metabolic alterations that they present.
What symptoms does metabolic syndrome produce?
Metabolic syndrome does not produce any symptoms. However, given the metabolic alterations these patients present, they have a greatly increased risk of presenting the following complications:
- Coronary heart disease with development of myocardial infarction and angina pectoris.
- Cerebrovascular disease with an increased risk of having a stroke or TIA.
- Peripheral arterial disease.
- Mellitus diabetes.
- Hyperuricemia and gout attacks.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver.
- Learn more about Sleep apnea syndrome.
What is the treatment for metabolic syndrome?
The treatment of metabolic syndrome is twofold. On the one hand, the realization of healthy lifestyle habits aimed at controlling obesity and insulin resistance and, on the other hand, if necessary, treatment with medicines to control risk factors.
The healthy lifestyle habits are:
- Maintain a diet low in animal fat and simple sugars.
- Perform physical exercise for 30 to 60 minutes at least 4 days a week. The physical exercise should be of sufficient intensity so that the heart accelerates, and the pulsation increases.
- Maintain a weight close to ideal (a body mass index close to 25 kg / m2). For this, physical exercise must be done and the calories in the diet must be reduced. In some cases, there may be an indication for pharmacological treatment or even surgery to reduce obesity.
- Give up tobacco if that is the case.
The drug treatment is aimed at controlling high blood pressure and, if any indication, reduce triglycerides and / or increase HDL cholesterol. Treatment with cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) could also be indicated in many of these patients to reduce the risk of developing a cardiovascular complication in the future.