Last week was Metabolic Disease Awareness Week which aimed to draw attention to this common but often overlooked disease.

Following on from this some of my patients have approached me asking for more information about the condition, so it seemed like a good time to go into a bit more detail here on the blog. The health news headlines regularly discuss obesity, diabetes and hypertension, however, few of us know much about metabolic disease; which is actually a combination of these three conditions.

It has been estimated that up to one in four adults have the disease with this statistic increasing to 30 per cent in the over 50 age group.

Let’s take a closer look at the causes, symptoms and preventative measures for the condition.


What is metabolic disease?

Metabolic disease is the term used to encompass the conditions that disrupt normal metabolic activity. As mentioned above this includes diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Our metabolism is used to break down foods and enzymes and convert them into energy whilst also ridding the body of any waste products such as urine. When this process is inhibited, blood vessels may be damaged, which can in turn lead to serious cardiovascular problems and strokes.


Symptoms of metabolic disease

Those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome will usually show signs of obesity, in particular a large waist circumference; high blood pressure; risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT); increased levels of triglycerides and decreased HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol; problems controlling blood sugar levels; and inflamed body tissue.


What are the causes of metabolic disease?

There are some groups of people who are more at risk of contracting metabolic disease. Firstly, those with genetic insulin resistance may be predisposed to developing metabolic problems. Secondly, insufficient physical exercise, consuming an unhealthy diet and being overweight are all potential contributing factors to the disease.


How can you prevent metabolic disease?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

This might be:

  • Taking part in moderate daily exercise. Team sports can be a fun way to introduce new activities. Walking to work might be another effective method.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight within the body mass index (BMI) guidelines, in particular reducing abdominal obesity.
  • Consuming a varied and nutritious diet which avoids trans-fats but includes five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, complex carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats and omega-3.
  • Reducing your alcohol intake and quitting smoking can also be beneficial.

The symptoms of metabolic disease can be treated and managed with medication; for example your doctor may look to prescribe drugs to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and maintain blood sugars. Although in the long run choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve the condition and reduce the dangers related to metabolic disease.