Metabolic syndrome [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted on 5 February 2021

Underlying conditions like high blood pressure and obesity can jointly lead to Syndrome X – and recognising it could be a matter of life or death.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects over a quarter of all South Africans – and it is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. Similarly, rates of diabetes and associated obesity are on the rise. But did you know all these conditions are in fact linked, and collectively fall under a single medical condition – metabolic syndrome.

“Metabolic syndrome comprises at least three of a specific set of criteria,” says Dr Francois van Zyl, an endocrinologist at Mediclinic Worcester. “Diabetes, hypertension, lipids exhibiting high triglycerides and low HDL (‘good cholesterol’) levels, as well as obesity, contribute to what we call Syndrome X or the ‘deadly quartet’. While each of these conditions are dangerous on their own, they’re even worse when combined. And this ultimately leads to greatly increased cardiovascular risk.”

Unsurprisingly, lifestyle factors have largely influenced the surge in metabolic syndrome in South Africa and worldwide. While genetics do play a small part in certain cases, a diet of primarily processed and starchy food as well as sedentary habits are the primary causes. But, as Dr van Zyl points out, awareness, responsibility, and prevention are critical in moving towards a healthy solution.

“Everybody needs to take ownership and responsibility for this increasing problem,” he says. “As a community we need to nip potential illnesses in the bud. Being aware of the red flags of pre-conditions goes a long way. Sustainability is also key, with many people intimidated by strict diets and exercise routines. A healthy lifestyle should be fun and inspiring, with communal support. Local park runs and healthy cooking classes are good examples of this.”




Published in Diabetes

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