Metabolic syndrome: A deadly quartet

Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar comments on the rapidly emerging metabolic syndrome epidemic

In my clinical practice, I encounter an increasing number of patients with the dreaded lifestyle-related condition called metabolic syndrome. This syndrome collectively refers to diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high lipid levels. Nonetheless, the underlying truth is that all four conditions share similar risk factors. And I think none of the readers will be surprised when I say that the main culprits are our sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits.

So if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, stay alert and take care to see that you don’t develop these other co-morbid conditions. Besides your blood sugar, there are other parameters to keep in mind and there’s an easy way to remember it – keep your “ABC” in check. ‘A’ stands for A1c or ‘glycated hemoglobin’ which is a reflection of your blood glucose during the two – three month period before the test. An ideal A1c level is less than 7%. ‘B’ stands for blood pressure. Keep these levels below 120/80. A high blood pressure indicates that you are making your heart work harder to push the blood through your arteries. ‘C’ stands for cholesterol, or in other words, your lipid profile. There are four kinds of lipids in your blood: low-density lipoprotein (LDL; < 80-100 mg %), high-density lipoprotein (HDL; > 35 mg % for men and 38 mg % women) cholesterol, total cholesterol (< 180 mg %), and triglycerides (< 100 to 150 mg %). LDL is often called ‘bad cholesterol’ while HDL is called the ‘good cholesterol’. Too much LDL causes fat to build up in your arteries which in turn increases blood pressure. Triglycerides are formed from the extra calories that you eat that are not required by the body and stored in fat cells until needed.

The ABCs of good health can be kept in control by eating right and being physically active. So make sure you check these levels at regular intervals. High blood pressure is rarely accompanied with symptoms, so get your A1c and blood pressure checked twice a year while an annual lipid profile examination is a must. If your doctor may give you a prescription to control your blood pressure or cholesterol, make sure you have it on time and don’t skip or change the doses without discussing it with him first.

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