Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by a combination of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Individually, these conditions all increase the likelihood of vascular damage, but in combination, they are particularly dangerous and significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease or stroke.
People who are at risk of metabolic syndrome should therefore follow the recommended lifestyle changes that can reduce their chance of developing the condition. Some of these preventive measures include the following:
- Losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce blood pressure, insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes developing.
- Following a healthy, low calorie diet that is low in trans-fatty acids, saturated fats, cholesterol and salt. The diet should be rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean meats and fish.
- Doctors recommend engaging in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Quitting smoking reduces the risk of worsening the adverse health effects associated with metabolic syndrome.
- People should moderate their drinking because those who abuse alcohol can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome by as much as 60%.
- People with risk factors for metabolic syndrome should adhere to their medication regime for conditions such has high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure can be controlled with antihypertensive medications that lower and maintain blood pressure
- Cholesterol lowering medications such as statins and fibrates help to raise the levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) and lower the level of triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).
- Any insulin medication should be taken as advised in order to control the blood sugar level.
- People identified as being at risk of metabolic syndrome should have parameters such as their weight, blood pressure and blood glucose monitored regularly.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc