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What is Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X?

The “X” sign has always been treated by people as something forbidden, mysterious, and unexplored. However, Syndrome X as a medical term is nothing about mystery or unexplored phenomena. Since 50th of the previous century a term “syndrome X” or “metabolic syndrome” is used in the medical circles to define a group of risk factors, that increase one’s chances to develop heart problems, stroke and diabetes.

For the time being, there are five predefined criteria or health conditions, which are used in diagnosing metabolic syndrome. If one has three or more conditions from the list – it is considered to be the case of metabolic syndrome, and it means that such person is in the greater risk to suffer from diabetes or cardiovascular disorders.

Before talking about the specific criteria of syndrome X in greater details, it is necessary to underline that metabolic syndrome should not be perceived as a single health disorder, like hypertension or diabetes, - syndrome X is nothing but a bunch of certain widely-occurring, well-studied and treatable health disorders, but the combination of them in one person should be treated as a red light, warning of potential serious health problems in the future, and calling one to pay more attention to his personal health.

So, below is a list of five conditions or criteria, used for diagnosing metabolic syndrome.

1) Abdominal obesity is the first factor to evaluate. Having body fat accumulated mostly around your waist, which results in apple-resembling body shape, is a true sign of abdominal obesity. To be more precise – one can measure his waistline and once it is more that 40 inches (102 cm) for a man, or 35 inches (88 cm) for a woman, - the box “abdominal obesity” can be ticked.

2) Elevated triglycerides levels in blood is the next criteria. Having more than 150 mg/dL blood fat, called triglycerides, means the increased risk for heart diseases.

3) Reduced level of good cholesterol. Having HDL cholesterol below 40 mg/dl for a man and 50 mg/dl for a woman is another risk factor, associated with syndrome X. This criterion, as well as the previous one, stems from individual eating habits. Once the abnormalities of blood lipids are detected, one should stick to the healthier diet and consult a doctor about medicinal options to fix his triglycerides and HDL cholesterol levels.

4) Higher than normal blood pressure or hypertension. This condition known as a “silent killer” is a serious precursor of further development of cardio problems. Having blood pressure higher than 135/85 or 140/90 (according to World Health Organization) is considered to be one of the metabolic syndrome criteria.

5) Fasting blood glucose of 110mg/dl or above. This criterion is usually defined by doctors after the blood test, taken after a night before eating. The level of glucose should be between 70 and 110 mg/dL. If it is above 140 mg/dL – it usually means diabetes.

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That is the most widely-used set of criteria to define syndrome X or metabolic syndrome. By the way, the criteria may be slightly different, when used by some group of experts or medical authorities, but the core remains the same. If you suspect having more than 3 of the above criteria – you would better take active steps towards lifestyle changes and healthy eating for the sake of preserving your health.

By the way, the sign “X” (Gebo) from the ancient runic alphabet means “a gift”. Of course, syndrome X as the marker of higher risks of health problems can hardly be perceived as a gift by modern people; but, perhaps, it is a timely warning and an opportunity to change things for better, that we should treat as a gift…


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