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Metabolic Syndrome

(Mis)fortune-telling... sort of.

Face reading is a specialized form of fortune telling in which the face is mapped and broken down to reveal a person’s character and fate. There’s no science behind it, yet people pay good sums of money to have their fortunes read. 

People want to know what their future holds.

When it comes to their health, patients turn to their doctors and ask questions like “will I develop diabetes?” and “am I going to get a heart attack?” And so,

Doctors do quite a bit of forecasting.

Like fortune tellers, when asked to predict the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, physicians first size up their client. But rather than face reading, they perform a sort of waist-reading. Instead of dividing the face into 13 different sections, doctors focus on the patient’s waistline. To obtain more clarity, the provider will look into other objective data points such as fasting blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Collectively, a profile known as “metabolic syndrome” may emerge. 

Metabolic syndrome is defined by the presence of three or more of the following characteristics in a person:

  • Obesity, especially in the abdominal area (in men, waist circumference greater than 40 inches or in women, waist circumference greater than 35 inches).

  • Elevated fasting blood sugar (fasting blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dL)

  • Increased blood pressure (130/85 mmHg or higher)

  • High triglyceride level (150 mg/dL or higher)

  • Reduced “good” or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (Less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women of HDL cholesterol)

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease but having metabolic syndrome signals increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Of course, even when patients are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, their fate is not sealed. Patients can lower their risk of cardiovascular disease by reversing or correcting the syndrome with lifestyle changes such as:

  • Weight loss

Losing 7 to 10 percent of their body weight and keeping the weight off can 

1) reduce insulin resistance 

2) reduce blood pressure 

3) decrease their risk of diabetes.

  • Regular exercise

At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) can help with weight loss and can help reduce the size of the abdomen, especially in women. 

  • Healthy diet

Healthy eating plans such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet can help lower weight, blood pressure, lipids, and improve insulin resistance. The diet plan should emphasize:

1) An approach to eating high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and lean proteins.

2) Limited intake of salt, sugar-sweetened beverages, alcohol, sugar, saturated and trans fats

  • Smoking cessation

Giving up smoking greatly improves overall health

  • Reduced cholesterol

In people with metabolic syndrome, an LDL cholesterol level of less than 80 to 100mg/dL is recommended. Lipid lowering medication may be necessary if diet and weight loss do not adequately reduce the bad cholesterols.

Our waistlines can change. And accordingly, with metabolic syndrome, so can our fortunes.


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