Heart Disease: Metabolic Syndrome

IMG_0851

April 2017. Bill has lost over 40 pounds and I’ve lost over 20. We didn’t try to do this, just changing our diet caused the weight to literally melt off! Our before picture is below.

Have you ever heard of Metabolic Syndrome? If you are like us, we never did, until December 22, 2016 when Bill was informed he had it. He was still reeling from the fact the week prior, he was told he was at risk for a massive heart attack and/or had heart disease. Like everyone who gets such a scary diagnosis, you never imagine it could happen to you.

In one way, it was a relief! It explained why Bill couldn’t lose a pound when he tried! We are a very active couple, living a lifestyle that demands activity. Or else, we chose this lifestyle because we love activity!

We love the outdoors, either to take hikes, or walk through forests, or go on long beach walks. Bill was in shock and denial because of the long hikes, going up and down some pretty steep mountains and never once felt out of breath! So I guess this means, it can happen to just about anyone without any symptoms or warnings. We know of several active men who literally dropped dead from a massive heart attack that also didn’t seem to have any symptoms.

Dr. Jeffrey E. Askew put Bill’s mind at ease, because of his physical activity, he didn’t think he was in grave danger. But he explained he needed him to take a Nuclear Stress test to rule it out for sure. (Bill passed it the following week with flying colors! And he was taught what he needed to do to get his heart rate up during his workouts.) Next, he explained to us what Metabolic Syndrome was. He gave us a detailed pamphlet while he explained it in layman’s terms. But since it was months ago, I am going to use some excepts and then use some photos.

In essence, this is what it takes to be diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome, and Bill just didn’t fit appear to fit the “picture” – or did he!!! At 6’2″, some of his issues were “hidden.” And in an effort to make his feel a little better, current statistics say about 35% of the US population also have this syndrome. Or,  “According to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans have it. That’s almost a staggering one out of every six people. The syndrome runs in families and is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. The risks of developing metabolic syndrome increases as you age.” Again, as an Irishman, Bill doesn’t seem to fit this statistic!

Metabolic Risk Factors: The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

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

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

A low HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.

High 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 blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup.

High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

Here’s just a summary of a few factoids, with a hyperlink to the original articles:

Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning.

Metabolic syndrome is dangerous because when individual conditions are seen together in a person, the likelihood increases for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

People with metabolic syndrome are twice as likely to die from, and three times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared with people without the syndrome.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. And it took a picture of Bill’s heart, via a CAT scan for him to finally “get it.” He wishes he had understood this all better when he was first diagnosed with high cholesterol.  These pictures show multiple things, but most important for Bill was how has affected his arteries. Those detailed pictures will follow this one:

Metabolic Syndrome Poster

This poster is hanging in the doctor’s office. And we were given a similar pamphlet.

IMG_0752

High blood glucose, or sugar, builds up in the blood stream. This is a concern for Bill as discussed in more detail below.

IMG_0753

High blood pressure, if not treated causes damage to the arteries. Bill was diagnosed with Hypertension, but that doctor NEVER talked to Bill about it. We’ve always thought his blood pressure was in the normal range. He does suffer from the “white coat syndrome” where his blood pressure does rise whenever he gets it taken at the doctor’s office! He’s tested normally at other doctor’s offices.

IMG_0754

Fibrous plaque, or atherosclerosis. This is where Bill has the most work to do! He doesn’t know what his actual condition but knows enough he had to drastically change his diet to help “heal” his heart!

IMG_0744

This was key for Bill as he has insulin resistance.

Our take away from all this was the FACT, we needed to change our diets, Bill has to up his working out where he gets his heart rate up and he has to learn how to control his stress level. Now why should a man who is living a dream lifestyle have stress? It’s called LIFE! The generator in our motorhome stopped working for about three months. He was trained as a mechanic so he can usually figure things out. Generators are a different animal and what is so sad, we can’t find any mechanics who work on generators. Anyway, that is a subject for another post. Suffice it to say, this causes him stress! If it isn’t one thing, it’s another!

We are finally getting into a groove with how we now eat. Next post, we will share more details as we are incorporating new technology to make our cooking more minimalistic while we eat whole foods! And that is our key: whole foods are foods that are not processed, we’ve eliminated all junk foods, all processed foods and we only eat naturally occurring sodium. It’s amazing to learn how many vegetables naturally contain sodium! We’ll still beginners so please feel free to help us with this!!!

IMG_4988

May 2015, when we first bought our Phaeton Motorhome. We were at our peak weight here but we felt fit, thought we ate a healthy diet and actually thought we were pretty hot stuff!!! LOL

I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. 2 Kings 20:5

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Heart Disease: Metabolic Syndrome

  1. Reblogged this on Follow the Tumble Lees! and commented:

    We are a bit behind in our Travel posts. But we have been a bit consumed with our health concerns. Fortunately, it looks like we are on the road to recovery and hope our journey down this road might encourage others to have the best health possible!

  2. That’s a great post and very informative. I can tell you I’ve changed my diet recently and have tried to keep it to unprocessed foods. Specifically fruits, vegetables, nuts, wild caught fish, light red meats etc. I’ve literally never felt better and my blood pressure dropped. Plus I’m exercising like a champ. I wish you both the best in health! I’ll follow your blog. Take good care!

    From the road….

    Will

    • Thanks Will! I think I was commenting on your blog while you were commenting here!!! You are so inspirational and we do hope we can keep you inspired a bit, too! Nothing any tougher in life than dealing with our own health challenges and those of our loved ones. So much to learn…

  3. You both look great! My family and I are about to take on a whole new eating plan as well, because of some major health concerns for us. Hope you will both continue to stay well. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s