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Metabolic syndrome

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Lower your metabolic syndrome risk with lifestyle changes

Experts say that changing your lifestyle is the main treatment for metabolic syndrome:

Get some exercise

Exercise is a great way to lose weight. That's the key if you're heavy. But don't feel depressed if the scales aren't showing progress. Even if you don't lose a single pound, exercise can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and improve insulin resistance.

If you're out of shape, start slowly. Try walking more. Work more physical activity into your day. When you're on foot, allow a little extra time to take the scenic route to get some extra steps. To keep track, buy a pedometer or step counter, and aim for 10,000 steps a day.

Ideally, you should increase your physical activity until you're doing it on most days of the week. But don't get too ambitious. If you try a workout programme that's too tough, you may just give up. You need to find a level of exercise that fits with your personality.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet can improve your cholesterol, insulin resistance, and blood pressure - even if your weight stays the same.

Ask your GP about the sort of diet you should eat. People who have heart disease or diabetes may need to have special meal plans. In general, a diet that's low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol and salt, and high in fruit and vegetables and fibre, has been shown to help people with high blood pressure and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Many doctors suggest a " Mediterranean diet." This meal plan emphasises "good" fats (like the monounsaturated fat in olive oil) and a balance of carbohydrates and proteins.

Lose some weight

Obviously, this is often a by-product of exercising and eating well. But it's a key goal in itself if you're overweight or obese. Weight loss can improve every aspect of metabolic syndrome.

If you smoke, stop

It's not a risk factor for metabolic syndrome itself, but smoking greatly increases your risk of blood vessel and heart disease.

Medicine for metabolic syndrome

Some people with metabolic syndrome will also need medication. Drugs might be needed if lifestyle changes aren't enough to reduce your risk factors. Some drugs you might be recommended to take are:

Blood pressure medicines, which include medicines such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, diuretics, beta-blockers, and other drugs.

Cholesterol medicines, which include statins, niacin, bile acid sequestrants (resins) and other drugs.

Diabetes medicines, which may be necessary if you have glucose intolerance.

Low-dose aspirin
, which can reduce the risks of heart attacks and stroke. It may be especially important for people who are "prothrombotic," or prone to blood clots.

Remember that all medication can have side effects and risks. Talk to your GP about the pros and cons of using any of these medications.

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