Metabolic syndrome is a health crisis hiding in plain sight
Doctors see it in their practice every day: Canadians are struggling to lead healthy lifestyles. The result is a growing prevalence of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease that account for 17% of all health care costs in Canada and tragically, 43% of all deaths.
The good news is that family doctors can detect the condition and treat it with a proven regimen of diet and exercise.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a health disorder that, left untreated, greatly increases the risk of many chronic illnesses. MetS is diagnosed when a patient has three of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure (≥ 130/85 mm Hg, or receiving medication)
- High blood glucose levels (≥ 5.6 mmol/L, or receiving medication)
- High triglycerides (≥ 1.7 mmol/L, or receiving medication)
- Low HDL-Cholesterol (< 1.0 mmol/L in men or < 1.3 mmol/L in women)
- Large waist circumference (≥ 102 cm in men, 88 cm in women; ranges vary according to ethnicity)
According to a 2014 study published in Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada, 19.1% of all Canadian adults — nearly 1 in 5 people — meet this diagnosis. Most people are unaware of it.
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome steadily rises in older demographics: it’s estimated 40% of people over 65 have MetS. Similar studies also show a high burden of abdominal obesity, low HDL and hypertriglyceridemia among people aged 18–49.Are you at risk? Take our short questionnaire
When metabolic syndrome progresses
Medical studies have linked MetS with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and dyslipidemia. Each of these diseases has a significantly higher rate of incidence — both diagnosed and undiagnosed — in patients with MetS.
The ten-year incidence estimate for diabetes is two and a half times higher in those with MetS compared to those without (18.0% vs. 7.1%), while the mean percent risk of a fatal cardiovascular disease event is five times higher (4.1% vs. 0.8%).
How do you treat metabolic syndrome?
Effectively treating MetS is critical to prevent progression to chronic diseases. Although medication is frequently used to treat the underlying conditions, it does nothing to address the common root cause of the problem, insulin resistance.
Only through diet and exercise are people able to reverse these conditions. Metabolic Syndrome Canada developed the CHANGE Program as a practical, flexible and personalized diet-exercise plan delivered at the focal point of Canadians’ health, their family medicine clinic.