Metabolic syndrome, and more

By Dr. Javier Rivera | Sep. 28, 2019 | Fibromyalgia

(Para leer en Español pincha aquí)

Metabolic syndrome is made up of a set of health problems that usually appear at the same time in a person. Obesity, high blood pressure and elevated levels of glucose, cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood make up this syndrome.

The most important problem posed by the metabolic syndrome is that it predisposes to the appearance of other serious diseases and complications such as diabetes, inflammatory diseases and also cardiovascular diseases.

Well, all this is very common among patients with fibromyalgia. Thus, 40% of patients have obesity, 35% hypertension and 14% diabetes.

On the other hand, we know that tobacco, lack of physical exercise or stress -frequent factors among patients with fibromyalgia- also increase cardiovascular risk, so that when they are combined with the metabolic syndrome they worsen quality of life and can compromise the life expectancy of the patient.

Regarding the metabolic syndrome, the only advantage it has is that it can be corrected, but you have to know that it is corrected more effectively by changing habits for healthier ones than by using drugs.

The majority of patients with fibromyalgia and overweight are in an intermediate range of obesity where the fundamental mechanism is an alteration in the energy balance between calories ingested and calories expended. In these cases, the solution is simpler because it is about balancing this balance by reducing calorie intake and increasing consumption with exercise.

The first thing that should be done is a proper diet in quantity and quality. In our country this is easy, since we have one of the best diets in the world with a wide variety of foods affordable to most households: the Mediterranean diet. I prefer not to give more details on this aspect because I think there are people much more qualified to talk about how to approach this topic.

Physical activity is the fastest and easiest way to consume calories. Physical exercise, like diet, are healthy habits that are followed daily and never occasionally. We have also discussed physical exercise in another article so I invite readers to check it out.

It is true that many of the drugs used to treat fibromyalgia symptoms cause weight gain. However, as this does not happen quickly, patients can detect progressive weight gain and discuss with their doctor a change in medication before excess weight reaches exaggerated figures.

The elevation of cholesterol, glucose or triglycerides should only be treated with drugs in those cases that are clearly indicated and because other measures have already failed.

An example is a study carried out in one of the countries in the world with the highest rates of obesity, where two groups of patients with high cholesterol were treated. One group was given only drugs to lower cholesterol levels and the other was advised to take healthy measures based on diet and exercise, but without medication. At the end of the study, both groups had reduced cholesterol levels, but those patients who took only cholesterol-lowering drugs had increased their weight by up to 14%

The most important conclusion that we can draw from this study is that patients who took drugs lowered their cholesterol, but gained weight, incorporating a new cardiovascular risk factor. However, those who introduced healthy habits did not gain weight and lowered their cholesterol just as well. As you can see, these are all advantages and, furthermore, without taking drugs!

In a disease such as fibromyalgia, where quality of life is among the worst of all, patients cannot afford to assume risk factors such as metabolic syndrome that further worsen their quality of life, increasing the burden of disease and the risk of other serious complications.

 

 

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