Do you have a family history of Diabetes? Do you have un-wanted pounds to lose? Is your Cholesterol high? Do you know your insulin level? Answers to these questions can help identify patients at risk for Syndrome X. Syndrome X is not a particular illness, but is a precursor to developing diabetes. Syndrome X (Metabolic Syndrome) is described as the silent killer because it is something that can sneak up on you over the years if you do not take a pro-active approach to your health. Having Syndrome X puts you at a greater risk for developing hypertension, heart disease, fatty liver, immune system dysfunction, cancer, stroke, polycystic ovarian disease, female endocrine disorders, and low testosterone in men.

The 4 Warning Signs:

1. Obesity (esp. in the abdomen)

2. High Blood Pressure

3. High Triglycerides & Cholesterol (low HDL & high LDL)

4. Insulin Resistance (high baseline levels of insulin and abnormally high insulin levels following a meal)

Obesity, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides are commonly cited by people as areas of concern. However, many forget to monitor the most silent sign: insulin resistance!

What Role Does Insulin Play?

Insulin is a chemical messenger for cells. It permits cells to use glucose (sugar) for energy. Insulin helps control the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Insulin is like a “key,” opening the door to the cell and allowing glucose to enter. Genetics, certain medical conditions, medications, being overweight, or inactivity can all cause your cells to alter to the point where the “key” no longer fits. When this happens, insulin is no longer allowed to open the door to the cell and is called insulin resistance.

If there is no glucose in the cell, the body has a difficult time metabolizing fats and carbohydrates.

Your brain cells interpret this lack of glucose as starvation. The brain signals that you are still hungry because glucose is not allowed to enter the cell. Therefore, you eat more to satisfy your “hunger.” This process becomes a vicious cycle and worsens obesity.

How Do You Know You Have Syndrome X?

Syndrome X can be established by analyzing:insulin blood test for both fasting and two hours after a meal; fasting glucose level; fasting lipid profile; a body composition analysis; waist circumference, and family history. I recommend monitoring these blood tests yearly to help identify warning signs. I also recommend periodically monitoring and recording your blood pressure.

Prevention:

Type II Diabetes can be looked at as a disease of lifestyle. It usually begins after age 30 and is exacerbated by signs of Syndrome X. Syndrome X can manifest by certain lifestyle habits such as inactivity, smoking, excessive drinking, and a diet rich in starches (corn, rice, bread, potatoes) and fats. The most important point to remember is that excess insulin begins to harm the body before you develop obesity or diabetes. It is at this stage, that intervention is most effective to help prevent diabetes. Through diet, exercise, supplements, and managing hormone imbalances, treatment and prevention can be achieved. For more information please call the office concerning our approach to treating Diabetes and Syndrome X. —Varsha Rathod, M.D.

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