There are many individuals who drink alcohol sensibly and find that this is something they enjoy. A drink or two with friends can be fun; there can even be health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption. Problems develop when people are unable to control their intake. If people abuse alcohol it can have devastating physical and mental health consequences. Those who drink too much are increasing the likelihood of developing problems such as metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome refers to a situation where people suffer from a combination of serious health problems including:
* High blood pressure
* Obesity – usually apple shaped weight gain around the abdomen
* High blood sugar levels
* Abnormal cholesterol levels
Just because the individual has one of these conditions it does not mean that they have metabolic syndrome; there needs to be a combination of these conditions. The dangers of metabolic syndrome include:
* Heart disease
* Type II diabetes
* Cardiovascular accidents (stroke)
Metabolic syndrome is sometimes referred to by other names including:
* Insulin resistance syndrome
* CHAOS – an acronym for Coronary artery disease, Hypertension, Adult onset diabetes, Obesity, and Stroke
* Syndrome X
* Metabolic syndrome X
* Reaven’s syndrome
* Cardiometabolic syndrome
Common symptoms that are associated with this condition include:
* Elevated blood pressure
* Increased tendency for clots to form in the blood
* Increased likelihood of developing inflammation
* Those individuals who have the condition will normally suffer from central obesity. This is where fat accumulates around the abdominal area.
* Glucose intolerance and insulin resistance
* High levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) in the blood. This increases the likelihood that the individual will develop plague on the walls of their blood vessels.
There are a number of likely causes for metabolic syndrome including:
* Lack of physical exercise
* Genetics almost certainly plays a part in the development of this condition. If people have a family history of relatives with type II diabetes or early heart disease then they will be more at risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
* Those individuals who have put on a great deal of weight over time will be more at risk.
* Smoking cigarettes seems to increase risk
* A diet that includes an excessive amount of carbohydrates
* Women who are post-menopausal may be more at risk
Moderate consumption of alcohol can reduce the risk of people developing metabolic syndrome. One Australian study found that those who drank moderately tended to have a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Drinking sensible amounts also meant that those in the study who were obese had a more favorable vascular risk profile.
It is not suggested by the medical experts that non-drinkers should take up this activity as a means to avoid metabolic syndrome. This is because there are many dangers associated with drinking alcohol. Those who abuse this substance can be greatly increasing their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by as much as 60%. The more they drink the more likely they will be to develop the condition. It also seems that those who abused alcohol early in life will be the most at risk.
There are things that people can do to reduce their risk of developing the condition such as:
* Only drinking sensible amounts of alcohol
* Keeping to a healthy diet and avoiding junk food
* Exercising regularly
* Not smoking cigarettes
* Regular medical checkups to monitor blood pressure, and blood results.
* Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods
* Avoiding obesity
The usual way to treat metabolic syndrome is for the individual to make suitable lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking and taking up exercise. In some cases it will be necessary for the individual to begin medication that will lower their blood pressure and bring their cholesterol levels under control. It may also be advisable for such people to begin taking aspirin to reduce their risk of developing a stroke.
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