Watch Your Waistline As Well As Your Cholesterol. Metabolic Syndrome
Obesity is the most important scourge of our civilized world – and of developing countries that are rapidly adopting Western lifestyles. It is no exception in the United States. In the past two or three decades, our adult obesity rate has nearly doubled, and our childhood obesity rate ranks first in Europe.
However, according to the latest research, the most dangerous type of obesity is the deposition of fat around the waist. The reason for this is that this type of obesity, called abdominal or visceral obesity, promotes changes as another group of cardiovascular risk factors.
If you type “cholesterol” in Spanish on the Google search engine, you get about 6.41 million entries. This gives you an idea of the popularity of this fat that circulates in our arteries. Today, most people are unaware that high cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of a heart attack.
But perhaps they don’t know that even with “normal” cholesterol levels, you’re not only susceptible to heart disease, but also to other cardiovascular diseases such as stroke – or its more familiar counterpart: cerebral embolism – or leg artery disease that leads to ulcers and amputations: what we call in medical terms peripheral artery disease. That’s what we’re talking about. There are other processes besides cholesterol that affect heart and artery disease.
Under 20 years of age, a person is said to have metabolic syndrome if he or she has high blood pressure, high blood sugar or high triglycerides or low “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) on top of abdominal obesity.
In 2005, the International Diabetes Federation defined the condition as a waist circumference measurement of 94 cm or more in men and 80 cm or more in women with both of these conditions (triglycerides of 150 mg/dL or more, HDL cholesterol of 40 mg/dL or less, or 50 mg/dL or less in women, blood pressure of 135/90 mm Hg or more, or blood glucose of 100 mg/ deciliter or higher) was diagnosed as metabolic syndrome.
In this way, it establishes a stricter limit for abdominal obesity than previously recognized by American experts, who recommended a value of 102 cm for men and 88 cm for women. So, if you want to know if you are viscerally obese and at risk of developing metabolic syndrome, measure your waist circumference.
There are two major benefits to recognizing metabolic syndrome: one is the recognition that people who meet the definition have a 50% higher risk of death than those who do not, as many studies have shown.
The main reason is that they are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases. If that’s not enough, they also have a five-fold increased risk of developing diabetes. Logically, the more components of the syndrome, the more likely it is to progress to these diseases.
But its second benefit is that it can alert people who have no other risk factors, such as cholesterol or smoking, to the dangers of fat accumulation below the waist and to take action to minimize it.
This is of particular interest to young people – who are expected to be at lower risk based on their age – or women, a predictive group for a syndrome that is more likely to die from cardiovascular causes than men.
First, you need to know the values of its components and see if one or more of them fall outside the range listed above. We all hold the key to reducing the effects of metabolic syndrome. It’s called lifestyle changes, which means losing weight and exercising regularly. In fact, and looking at the chart, we only need to lose 5% to 10% of our body weight to reduce our life circumference by 30%, and just by staying in shape we can cut our risk of diabetes in half and our risk of dying from cardiovascular disease in half! You can.
In this sense, the more you exercise, the better your health. Of course, these measures can also reduce the members of the syndrome: lower blood pressure, improve good cholesterol levels, lower triglycerides, and improve blood sugar levels.
However, if you are still at high risk after taking these measures, or if some part of the syndrome remains pathological, additional medication may be needed. It is always the responsibility of our doctors to prescribe the right medication, so we should see them and keep in mind that no medication can replace simple measures such as weight loss and exercise, but rather as a supplement.
Even if we are not obese and do not accumulate fat under the abdomen, or if we do not fall under the definition of metabolic syndrome, a varied and adequate diet is always suitable to maintain our weight, as well as the regular practice of gymnastics or some type of exercise, or at least once a week for 5 Or 6 days, with a recommended time of 30 minutes of light walking. Without exception, we can find exercises that suit our age and personal requirements.
In addition, we must not forget that we have an obligation to pass on a healthy society to our children.
Only in this way can we avoid the consequences of an increasing incidence of childhood obesity. Of course, there is no better way than to lead by example. Our health and that of our loved ones will be rewarded.