The metabolic syndrome: do you have a risk profile?


Metabolic syndrome is not a disease. It’s a series of overweight-related health problems that seriously increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, angina pectoris, heart attack or stroke. People with metabolic syndrome run a risk of heart attack three to five times higher than the normal population.

Do you have metabolic syndrome?

  • Are you overweight, mainly in your stomach area?
  • Do you have too much fat (triglycerides/LDL) in your blood?
  • Do you have low levels of good blood cholesterol (HDL)?
  • Are you hypertensive?

Do you have too much sugar (glucose) in the blood (glucose intolerance)?

If you answered yes to at least 3 of these questions, you may have metabolic syndrome which increases your risk of developing heart disease, stroke or diabetes. Consult a doctor without delay.

Abdominal obesity: the source of the problem

Abdominal obesity (located in the stomach) is often described as the “driving force” of the metabolic syndrome. It releases more fatty acids into the blood, increases blood pressure and interferes with the work of insulin (insulin resistance). Insulin is the hormone that allows consumed sugar to leave the blood as quickly as it enters to supply cells with energy. It’s also insulin that keeps the liver from making too much sugar when you’re fasting. Insulin resistance is when a normally sufficient amount of insulin can no longer bring sugar into the cells. The body therefore produces more insulin to do the same job. The central factor of the metabolic syndrome is “insulin resistance”.

Insulin resistance also has other negative consequences: it can lead to diabetes and increased lipid levels (hyperlipidemia) as well as blood pressure.

Diabetes, hyperlipidemia (too much fat or lipids in the blood) and high blood pressure are considered major risk factors for arteriosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries which can lead to their blockage and stroke.

Diet and physical activity: the best shields

The prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome essentially involves returning to a healthy weight. Even modest weight loss (from 5 to 10% of weight) provides beneficial effects:

  • Improved working capacity of insulin, therefore better control of blood sugar levels.
  • Normalization of the amount of lipids/fats circulating in the blood.
  • Decrease in blood pressure.
  • Increase your practice of physical activity to 29 minutes per day: two steps of 10 minutes, 20 minutes of gardening and 20 minutes of stretching, cycling or dancing. Every activity counts, regardless of duration or intensity!

    Eat vegetables, fruits, high-fiber foods more often and high-fat foods less often. Take smaller portions at meals. A varied and balanced diet including healthy choices is the best way to maintain good health!

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29The Metabolic Syndrome

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