Mike was dead. Like actually dead. A Goner. Caput. Nada.
Mike thought he was in pretty good shape. Why wouldn’t’ he be? 34 years old, 3 kids and a booming business, he still got his occasional walk in with the dogs, as well as the weekly half-court basketball game with his buddies. 6 foot 2 and 250 pounds, he had kept a little extra around the waist since his high school glory days but who hadn’t? Unfortunately that was also the last time he had exercised regularly. When he worked a lot his food choices suffered as well, often resorting to a quick burger and fries at lunch between meetings. His nightly drink to “wind-down” often swelled to heavy drinking on the weekend. Well, things finally caught up to Mike, and in a bad way. Although Mike wasn’t morbidly obese and hadn’t been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes or anything else “serious”, he did have a lingering high blood pressure that his doctor had warned him about. He wasn’t making the best food and drink choices. And of course he had planned on losing those extra pounds, as soon as life slowed down a bit.
Fortunately for Mike, the paramedics arrived quickly and were able to resuscitate him using a portable defibrillator to kick start his heart, followed by oxygen and the appropriate meds. The cardiologist met him at the hospital and placed several stents in his coronary arteries to reopen those critical pathways to the heart. The ICU team continued his care and a few days later he was talking to his family and walking around again.
Mike was one of the lucky ones. At 34 he didn’t think he was at risk. Those things only happen to OLD people. He had never heard of metabolic syndrome, likely the leading cause of chronic disease in this country. Increased future diagnoses of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a cancer are all attributable to metabolic syndrome.
Risk factors for this disease (per NIH guidelines) include:
- Large waist — A waistline that measures at least 35 inches (89 centimeters) for women and 40 inches (102 centimeters) for men
- High triglyceride level — 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or higher of this type of fat found in blood
- Reduced “good” or HDL cholesterol — Less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- Increased blood pressure — 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher
- Elevated fasting blood sugar — 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher
Having 3 of these factors gives you metabolic syndrome and significantly increases your chance of death in the next 20 years for any reason, but especially diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Mike likely had 4 or 5 of these risk factors. His massive heart attack could have been prevented if action had been taken when he only had 1 or 2. Why wait til you can’t wait any longer.
How many of these do you have? If you don’t know then find out, and sooner than later. You may not be as lucky as Mike.