Syndrome X


"Outside every fat man there was an even fatter man trying to close in."

Kingsley Amis (1922-1995),

British novelist

One Fat Englishman, ch. 3 (1963)

YOU could say "Syndrome X" is an invention of overactive medical minds.

But then again, a doctor, after seeing patient after patient complaining of similar problems and presenting with similar symptoms, notices an emerging pattern. "Theres something going on here"

Metabolic syndrome. The other name for Syndrome X is the plain "metabolic syndrome." It is not a disease by itself but a cluster of disorders that together can result in Type 2 diabetes, a heart attack, or a stroke. Some call it the mother of lifestyle diseases and it can be a bitch. Imagine, for the sake of irony, that youve worked hard all your life so that you can buy what you want, do what you want, and eat what you want. For most of us, it does mean entropy. Because as soon as life gets comfortable, theres more time to do less, goof around a lot, and yes of course, eat like theres no tomorrow. Now Syndrome X is just around the corner.

Okay, the numbers. You can get an executive check up and why not? We know the car needs to be tuned up every 5,000 kms (or 3,500 kms to the anal retentive). Shouldnt we also care for our mortal vessel before it breaks down? Your favorite doctor examines you and orders some blood tests. If 3 of the following are present, you have Syndrome X:

* High blood pressure (130/85 mmHg or greater)

* High blood sugar (fasting blood sugar of 110 mg/dL or greater)

* High amount of fat in the blood (triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or greater)

* Low good cholesterol (HDL high density lipoprotein or the good cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 mg/dL in women)

* In addition, abdominal obesity (waist more than 40 inches in men, more than 35 inches in women)

Having any three means youre a good candidate for a heart attack or a stroke, which ever comes first. Most diabetics of the adult-onset type (Type 2) already have metabolic syndrome, particularly if they are not wellmanaged or if they do not take their medications.

Risk Factors. Age is a risk factor. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with age. Less than 10% of people in their twenties are affected but rises to 40% in the sixties. Families with history of diabetes are at risk and also those who get diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). A high fat diet that leads to obesity will increase the chances of Syndrome X.

Treatment. …

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