Read an Excerpt
In all likelihood, you are reading this book because you or someone you know has been diagnosed as having the syndrome of insulin resistance, also called syndrome X. You have concerns and worries, naturally, and probably some fears as well. It can be frightening to walk into the doctor's office with what seem like minor health concerns and walk out with terms like insulin resistance, diabetes, and syndrome X spinning through your mind. Though you might feel singled out right now, you are far from alone. Researchers estimate as many as two in ten American adults have some degree of insulin resistance, the core feature of syndrome X. Without appropriate intervention and treatment, they can develop further health problems.
You do not have to be one of them. Yes, you now have a serious health concern. We do not want to gloss over this reality. But you also have a real opportunity to take control of your lifestyle and your health in ways that can improve both. That you have picked up this book shows you want to make these improvements. You have a lot of questions. While no one has all the answers, this book offers the most current information about this newly identified and potentially deadly health disorder, syndrome X.
This chapter presents an overview of syndrome X--the insulin resistance syndrome--and its various health consequences. Subsequent chapters discuss key aspects of this syndrome in further detail.
What is syndrome X?
In medical terms, a syndrome is a group of health conditions or risks for conditions that, when they occur together, define a particular medical condition. Doctorssometimes describe a syndrome as being like a constellation. When one condition exists by itself, it is like a single star in the sky. When multiple conditions exist together, however, they form an identifiable pattern. In the night sky you might see a pattern of stars as the constellation Orion or the Big Dipper. In your medical records, a pattern of conditions shows a syndrome. Often, syndromes have a key condition at their core.
Syndrome X is a constellation of health conditions that includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, obesity, and risk for early coronary artery disease. In women, syndrome X, also includes polycystic ovarian disease, or PCOS. It is likely that further research will reveal additional conditions included in this syndrome.
Type 2 DiabetedDiabetes is a medical disorder affecting the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fat, There are two major forms of diabetes, so it is important to be clear that only type 2 diabetes is linked to syndrome X. Type 2 diabetes is sometimes called adult-onset diabetes, adult diabetes mellitus, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Type 2 diabetes results from a combination of the body not producing enough insulin and not being able to properly use the insulin it does produce, so that high blood sugar and other metabolic abnormalities develop.
Type 2 diabetes most often develops in adults over age, 40, though it can occur at any age (even in children). It tends to develop slowly. There are typically few signs that type 2 diabetes is developing, though these are the most common:
- increased thirst and urination
- fluctuating changes in vision
- unexplained weight logs
- wounds that don't heal
Many people can successfully manage their type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise. Others take oral medications to help their bodies produce more insulin or make better use of the insulin they produce, and some must take insulin injections.
This hundred-dollar word simply means "abnormal fats." These are the fats that are in your blood, in the forms of triglycerides, phospholipids, and cholesterol. People with dyslipidemia typically have dangerously high levels of these fatty substances, known collectively as lipids. Lipids coat the insides of the arteries, including those that supply the heart itself, with fatty deposits. This narrows the opening through which blood flows. Laboratory tests can measure the amounts of lipids in the blood. Doctors often prescribe a combination of diet, exercise, and medication to try to bring the levels down.
More commonly known as high blood pressure, hypertension causes the walls of the arteries to thicken and stiffen. Hypertension usually has no outward symptoms. The only way to diagnose hypertension is by taking blood pressure readings.
Early Coronary Artery Disease
Every thirty-five seconds, someone in the United States dies from heart disease. That adds up to nearly a million deaths each year. Heart disease claims more lives every year than all forms of cancer and the next six causes- of death combined. Once thought of as an age-related problem, heart disease is now recognized as a health concern that can begin as early as the twenties.
Doctors have known for many years that people with diabetes are far more likely to develop heart disease, especially coronary artery disease, at an earlier age than people who do not have diabetes. Only recently have they understood the connection to insulin resistance. Because of this connection, people who have syndrome X often have more advanced heart disease than would be expected for their age.
Coronary artery disease is often a consequence of untreated diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension. As fatty deposits narrow the openings through the arteries, the body responds by raising blood pressure to push enough blood through. Blood clots form on the fatty deposits, narrowing the openings further. This deadly process continues until eventually the arteries are so clogged that fragments of the deposits and blood clots rupture and may break away. Blood pressure continues to rise. The result is a heart attack or stroke.
In many cases, it is possible to halt and even reverse the process of early heart disease development. In fact, many doctors believe as much as 90% of all heart disease, whether associated with syndrome X or not, can be prevented.Syndrome X. Copyright � by Deborah Romaine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.