A Nasty, But Fixable Cause of Heart Disease

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Syndrome X,
or insulin resistance syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that increase
risk of heart disease. These symptoms have nothing to do with high
cholesterol yet have proven very significant in terms of predicting
risk of heart attacks.

First among
the syndrome X risk factors is high insulin levels. This does not
mean diabetes, which is high blood sugar levels. High insulin levels
mean that your blood sugar metabolism is not working right, but
you are making enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels somewhat
normal, or at least below that of a diabetic.

Insulin resistance
is another name for high insulin levels combined with normal blood
sugar levels. Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose into
the cells where it is used for energy. Insulin resistance is what
happens when the cells do not respond to insulin and do not take
the glucose from the blood. The pancreas then increases insulin
levels until the cells finally take in the glucose. Insulin resistance
is the long term result of too many carbohydrates and the wrong
kinds of fat in the diet. Symptoms of insulin resistance include
fat around the midsection of the body, sleepiness after high carbohydrate
meals, and difficulty losing weight.

The next factor
is elevated triglycerides or blood fat. Faulty glucose metabolism
causes the liver to make and/or release more fat than normal. Elevated
blood triglycerides are a good indicator of problems with blood
sugar metabolism whether it is diabetes or syndrome X.

Another important
indicator of syndrome X is low HDL cholesterol. HDL is the healthy
cholesterol that acts as a transporter that helps keep bad cholesterol
from blocking the arteries. With syndrome X, this HDL cholesterol
is diverted into harmful blood fats. In the studies performed around
naming syndrome X, low HDL cholesterol was as important a factor
in terms of predicting heart disease as was high cholesterol. When
combined with high blood pressure, low HDL became an extremely good
indicator of risk of heart disease.

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31, 2009

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