What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a medical condition which is becoming very common nowadays because of sedentary lifestyles and poor diet choices. This syndrome may also run in families and your risk for it increases as you age. Metabolic syndrome is not really a disease but a combination of other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat. All these risk factors combined can double your risk of blood vessel and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. They increase your risk of diabetes by five times. The good news is that metabolic syndrome can be controlled through lifestyle changes.
The five risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome are a large waist size, elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels, high blood pressure levels and high fasting blood sugar levels. A large waist size is defined at 40 inches or larger in men and 35 inches or larger in women. High triglyceride levels are 150 mg/dL or higher while low Good Cholesterol (HDL) means less than 40 mg/dL or less than 50 mg/dL in women. High blood pressure means having blood pressure of 135/85 mm Hg or greater. High fasting glucose level is 100 mg/dL or higher. You need to have at least three of these risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is caused by various risk factors such as insulin resistance, obesity, unhealthy lifestyle and hormonal imbalances. Insulin resistance means that the insulin in the body doesn't work very well in bringing glucose inside the tissues, thus giving rise to higher blood sugar levels and diabetes. Insulin resistance is closely connected to having excess fat in the abdomen. Abdominal obesity is also one risk factor for metabolic syndrome. This may be a result of unhealthy lifestyles such as eating a diet rich in fats and not getting enough physical activity everyday. Hormonal imbalance may also play a role, as metabolic syndrome can be a result of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects fertility. If you have metabolic syndrome, you should control these risk factors to lessen your risk for diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. Risk factors of metabolic syndrome are easily controllable. Uncontrollable risk factors for metabolic syndrome include older age; it is said that the risk for getting this condition rises from 20% in your 40s, to 35% in your 50s, to 45% in your 60s and beyond; another uncontrollable risk factor is family history and race (South Asian).
Metabolic syndrome is associated with numerous risk factors including blood clots, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fatty liver, cholesterol gallstones, and lipodystrophy (which affects fat distribution). This condition doesn't have symptoms of its own but its symptoms are a direct result of metabolic syndromes components such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. The signs of metabolic syndrome are high levels of blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess belly fat. All these signs raise the odds of serious health problems such as diabetes and blood vessel or heart disease. Metabolic syndrome can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition wherein there is hardening of the arteries due to the accumulation of fats, cholesterol and other substances on the sides of the arteries. The arteries then become clogged and brittle. Blood clots form when the arterial walls are damaged. If a blood clot forms, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease which is a consequence of metabolic syndrome can lead to sudden deaths.
New Drug Shows Potential in Treating Metabolic Syndrome
A recent study showed that an enzyme involved in intracellular signaling plays a crucial role in developing metabolic syndrome. This has led a company to develop a drug to potentially treat the condition. The researchers from University of Utah are now working to begin human clinical trials of a drug in the next couple of years. The researchers studied rodents and found out that an enzyme known as PASK stimulates the overproduction of fatty acids and triglycerides. PASK works by chemically modifying other proteins in order to alter their specific functions. One of the proteins it modifies is SREBP-1c, which functions as the master regulator of all of the enzymes that make fat. The drug being studied by the researchers was able to prevented PASK from modifying SREBP-1c. This, in turn, prevented SREBP-1c from increasing the production of enzymes that make fat, resulting in a drop in the levels of fatty acids and triglycerides in mouse and rat livers. Insulin resistance and diabetes were also partially reversed in diabetes-prone animals.
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