Syndrome X

If you are putting on weight around the waistline despite healthy eating habits. If you feel constantly tired, relying on snacks or coffee to get you through the day? The problem might be Syndrome X.

A commonly accepted definition of Syndrome X, also referred to as metabolic syndrome, might be a generalized disorder whose four main symptoms are hyperglycemia (a greater than normal amount of glucose in the blood)  hyper-lipidemia (an excess level of blood fat), hypertension (characterized by elevated blood pressure) and central obesity. Presenting two of the above is generally considered the diagnosis criteria for this disorder.

The main risk factors are:

Stress – recent research indicates prolonged stress can be an underlying cause of metabolic syndrome by upsetting the hormonal balance of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, causing high cortisol levels to circulate, raising glucose and insulin levels, which in turn cause insulin-mediated effects on adipose (fat) tissue.

Central obesity – is a key feature of the syndrome, reflecting the fact that the syndrome’s prevalence is driven by the strong relationship between waist circumference and increasing fat deposits. However, despite the importance of obesity, patients who are of normal weight may also be insulin-resistant and have syndrome X.

Sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity – many components of metabolic syndrome are associated with a sedentary lifestyle, including increased adipose tissue, reduced HDL cholesterol and a trend toward increased triglycerides, blood pressure, and glucose levels.

Aging – Although the syndrome affects both men and women in the same way, women are particularly vulnerable, especially after middle age and with respect to that demographic, the percentage of women is much higher than that of men.

Symptoms may include muscular weakness, fatigue, dizziness, weight-gain or obesity, cravings for sugar and carbohydrates or stimulants such as coffee, tea or cigarettes.

The good news is that Syndrome X can be managed and the risk factors minimized by changes to lifestyle, nutrition, physical activity, weight reduction and stress management.