Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Verdict: I Have Metabolic Syndrome

After reviewing my last set of lab results (8 tubes of blood - a personal record!) and considering the report from my recent biopsy, the concensus is that I have metabolic syndrome.

According to the National Institutes for Health,

Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors linked to overweight and obesity. These risk factors increase your chance of having heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can develop any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed if you have at least three of these metabolic risk factors.

A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or "having an apple shape." Excess fat in the abdominal area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.

A higher than normal triglyceride level (or you're on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.

A lower than normal HDL cholesterol level (or you're on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL is sometimes called "good" cholesterol because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk of heart disease.

Higher than normal blood pressure (or you're on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps out blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup.

Higher than normal fasting blood sugar (or you're on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

Hmmm. I never did have a small waistline, even during my young skinny days, but I wouldn't quite describe myself as apple-shaped. Triglycerides and cholesterol have historically been good, too. But I've had to take blood pressures meds since my transplant. Also since then I've developed diabetes and take insulin injections twice a day.

Metabolic syndrome caused the significant build-up of fat in my liver that was detected in last month's biopsy, which is a key reason my liver function tests are showing poor results now. So here's what it's going to take to improve this situation:

* Lose weight (I've lost 7 pounds since April - off to a good start!)

* Control blood sugar better (I'm seeing my endocrinologist next week)

* Increase thyroid medication; TSH level is in range, but needs to be lower

I'm taking more meds, too - vitamin E, folic acid, higher dose of magnesium. I also may add another med after I see the endocrinologist next week.

What does all this mean for the Hep C treatment I'm currently on? I'll find out Tuesday when I visit my treatment coordinator. Apparently, the team at my transplant center has debated whether I should stay on or discontinue treatment, or even switch to a different type of Interferon.

I'll post an update after that appointment - and share some info I discovered about Metabolic Syndrome after liver transplant.

Photo by Jason Antony

1 comment:

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...


Best wishes to you. I think of you quite often and I wish things would take a better turn for you. I can't imagine all the anguish you have endured since transplant. Hang in there friend and I look forward to hearing what you learn.