Metabolic Syndrome – What is it? Will I get it?

Metabolic Syndrome – What is it? Will I get it?

It is estimated that 25% of the world’s adult population has Metabolic Syndrome (Met Sy) (1). This is a very common syndrome and I want to empower you to take a preventative approach to minimise your risks of developing Met Sy.

Essentially it represents 5 variables which increase “cardiometabolic risk”.

  • Obesity (BMI >30)
  • Raised fasting glucose (blood sugar)
  • High triglycerides
  • Low high density lipoprotein (HDL)
  • High blood pressure

Fundamentally central obesity (apple shape) is associated with insulin resistance. This means cells are not responding to insulin as they usually do, moving glucose from the blood stream into cells. When there is excess insulin secreted from the pancreas:

  • Excess glucose (sugar) is stored as fat and energy levels drop
  • Testosterone and cholesterol levels increase
  • Fat burning is reduced and diabetes risk increases

In obesity, the extra fat causes inflammation, can result in high blood pressure, clotting and adverse blood fat profiles. It acts like a metabolic organ of it’s own, producing inflammatory factors that affect whole body health.

So what action steps can you take to decrease your risks of metabolic syndrome?

  • Exercise more
  • Lose weight – between 5-10% weight loss can increase HDL and reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Avoid trans fats – these are not recognised by the body – commonly found in baked goods eg pastries and deep fried foods.
  • Cut back on refined carbohydrates or processed foods
  • Stop smoking
  • Alcohol in moderation – no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men is recommended.

Metabolic Syndrome and Mental illness

The incidence of obesity and Met Sy in people with mental illness compared with the general population is:

  • More than two times higher in women
  • Almost twice as high in men

This reflects the brain effects of vascular and hormonal changes with metabolic syndrome (2)

At Braid Health, we take a preventative and proactive approach to health. Metabolic Syndrome is a condition we look out for in our clients and routinely do comprehensive blood panels and detailed functional pathology testing. We aim to empower our clients through education, discussion and implications of results of testing, and use science-based approaches to optimise their health.

Who to test and when?

  • Asymptomatic men >45y
  • Asymptomatic women >55y
  • In Maori, Pacific and Indo-Asian people start 10 years ie
    • asymptomatic men >35y
    • asymptomatic women >45y
  • If there are multiple risk factors begin 10 years earlier.
    • Long term steroid or antipsychotic treatment
    • BMI>30 or BMI >27 for Indo-Asian people
    • Family history  of early onset type 2 diabetes
    • Personal history of gestational diabetes mellitus
    • Ischaemic heart disease (heart attack or angina) (3)

1. Anagnostis P et al 2009
2. Allison et al 2009