What Is Metabolic Syndrome? The Precursor to Many Lifestyle Conditions

Metabolic syndrome is a health condition that can impact multiple organs in the body.

3 min read
Hindi Female

With life becoming fast-paced, hormonal balance can often go for a ride with increased stress in people.

But did you know that hormonal imbalance in your body or increased hypertension can increase the risk of a stroke?

There's even a term for it – metabolic syndrome, defined as a cluster of medical conditions in your body.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 25 percent of the urban Indian population – approximately 31 percent women and 18.5 percent men – suffers from metabolic syndrome.

FIT spoke to Dr Arun Prasad, Senior Consultant, GI, Bariatric and Robotic Surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, and Dr Priyamvada Tyagi, Consultant, Endocrinology, Max Hospital, Patparganj, to answer all your questions.


What is metabolic syndrome? At what age does it usually start?

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of medical conditions that occur together and increase the risk of heart diseases, stroke, fatty liver disease, and diabetes. These conditions include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • High blood sugar levels (insulin resistance or diabetes)

  • High levels of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood

  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) in the blood

  • Impaired glycemia

  • Abdominal obesity (excess fat around the waist)

Apart from these conditions, lack of physical activity or a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome.

Dr Prasad explains,

"Metabolic syndrome is typically diagnosed in adults who are over 40 years old and who have at least three of the above conditions."

However, it can also occur in children and young adults, particularly those who are overweight or obese.

The exact age at which metabolic syndrome starts can vary depending on various factors such as genetics, lifestyle, eating habits, hormonal imbalance, etc.


Which organs are affected the most because of this syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome can impact your

  • Heart

  • Liver

  • Pancreas

This is because the damage caused by high blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin resistance can cause harm to blood vessels and elevate the chances of a heart attack or stroke.


How can it be treated?

"To manage metabolic syndrome, lifestyle modifications are the primary treatment, including following a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and losing weight. Even a modest weight loss can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels."
Dr Priyamvada Tyagi, Consultant - Endocrinology, Max Hospital, Patparganj.

Consuming a diet that is low in processed food, sugar, and unhealthy fats and rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can help manage metabolic syndrome.

Apart from lifestyle changes, medications may be necessary to manage the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

How can one try preventing metabolic syndrome through diet and lifestyle?

Here are some ways to prevent metabolic syndrome:

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Exercise regularly

  • Limit alcohol consumption & avoid smoking

  • Manage stress

  • Get regular health check-ups


Is there another way to treat metabolic syndrome apart from lifestyle changes?

Dr Prasad shares that people struggling with metabolic syndrome also opt for bariatric surgery.

"Metabolic bariatric surgery can provide significant benefits for people with metabolic syndrome in India. The surgery is designed to help people lose weight and improve their metabolic health."
Dr Arun Prasad, Senior Consultant, GI, Bariatric and Robotic Surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.

Bariatric surgery can actually help with weight loss and improve metabolic health by improving insulin sensitivity, reducing blood pressure, decreasing inflammation, and improving lipid metabolism.

All of this doesn't just help relieve the patient of their pain but also decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In the long-term, surgery might also help patients wean off medication for hypertension.

However, metabolic bariatric surgery is not a magic solution, and people who undergo the surgery will still need to make significant lifestyle changes.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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