As waistlines expand, so does the epidemic of metabolic syndrome. It’s estimated that nearly one of every four American adults has this condition(1). If you’re one of them, it puts you on the track to developing type 2 diabetes and triples your risk for heart disease down the road. The identification of metabolic syndrome two decades ago(2) is now recognized as a turning point in our understanding of how metabolism can go awry, resulting in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“When you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar levels rise and your pancreas releases insulin to move the sugar from your blood into your cells to be used or stored,” explains Chere Bork, RDN, a nutritionist and life coach in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area. But if your body is continuously exposed to high levels of insulin, Bork says, “the receptor cells become inefficient and resistant to the effects of insulin,” and this leaves blood glucose levels elevated. It is insulin resistance that promotes the high cholesterol, high glucose, and high blood pressure of metabolic syndrome — also known as insulin resistance syndrome.
The United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) was a clinical study conducted by Z that was published in The Lancet in 1998. Around 3,800 people with type 2 diabetes were followed for an average of ten years, and were treated with tight glucose control or the standard of care, and again the treatment arm had far better outcomes. This confirmed the importance of tight glucose control, as well as blood pressure control, for people with this condition.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
The value of routine screening for hypertension in children over the age of 3 years is debated. In 2004 the National High Blood Pressure Education Program recommended that children aged 3 years and older have blood pressure measurement at least once at every health care visit and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and American Academy of Pediatrics made a similar recommendation. However, the American Academy of Family Physicians supports the view of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that the available evidence is insufficient to determine the balance of benefits and harms of screening for hypertension in children and adolescents who do not have symptoms.
Another common endocrine cause is oral contraceptive use. Activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) is the likely mechanism, because hepatic synthesis of angiotensinogen is induced by the estrogen component of oral contraceptives. Approximately 5% of women taking oral contraceptives may develop hypertension, which abates within 6 months after discontinuation. The risk factors for oral contraceptive–associated hypertension include mild renal disease, familial history of essential hypertension, age older than 35 years, and obesity. It would be better to group oral contraceptives and steroids with drug-induced hypertension (see Table 1, below).
Some risks of the keto diet include low blood sugar, negative medication interactions, and nutrient deficiencies. (People who should avoid the keto diet include those with kidney damage or disease, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, and those with or at a heightened risk for heart disease due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or family history. (40)
Metabolic syndrome increases your risk for coronary heart disease. Other risk factors, besides metabolic syndrome, also increase your risk for heart disease. For example, a high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level and smoking are major risk factors for heart disease. For details about all of the risk factors for heart disease, go to the Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors Health Topic.
Hypertension is rarely accompanied by symptoms, and its identification is usually through screening, or when seeking healthcare for an unrelated problem. Some people with high blood pressure report headaches (particularly at the back of the head and in the morning), as well as lightheadedness, vertigo, tinnitus (buzzing or hissing in the ears), altered vision or fainting episodes. These symptoms, however, might be related to associated anxiety rather than the high blood pressure itself.