You may have heard that a wide waistline can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. In fact, it’s one of the conditions that can lead to metabolic syndrome. The good news is you can significantly decrease your risk through lifestyle changes. At the Metabolic Fitness Program, a division of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Health System, our multidisciplinary team of cardiovascular experts is focused on helping you reverse your metabolic syndrome through support, education and comprehensive care.
Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of three or more of the following health conditions:
- Abdominal girth – also known as a beer belly or apple shape
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated triglycerides – a type of fat in your blood
- Elevated blood sugar
- Low HDL – good cholesterol
The more of these conditions you have, the more at risk you are for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and diabetes. About 80 percent of people who have metabolic syndrome have it as a genetic inheritance. However it can be modified, if lifestyle is modified. Of the 20 percent who did not inherit metabolic syndrome, the disorder is almost all lifestyle induced.
Our program combines exercise, nutrition, stress management and strategies for behavior change in a supportive group atmosphere to facilitate positive lifestyle changes, which in turn reduces risk. The six-month program, with a wide variety of days and hours to suit your schedule, includes one day a week at the Metabolic Fitness Program for mini lectures, group discussions and exercise, and then an exercise program for you to do on your own. All of our patients in the Program are granted full access to our cutting-edge Fitness Center, which is supervised by our exercise physiologists.
A physician referral is required to enroll in the Metabolic Fitness Program so we can develop a partnership with you and your primary care physician. This is important because improvements in blood pressure control, blood sugar and blood fats can result in a need to modify medications.
Before you start in the Program, we do a blood test to use as a baseline, along with a stress test to ensure it’s safe for you to exercise. Our nurse practitioner conducts an exam, along with a psychological profile to check for depression and sleep apnea, which can be factors for increased weight. Our exercise physiologists monitor your workouts to ensure you aren’t doing too little exercise, and therefore not getting the benefits you need to reverse metabolic syndrome, or too much exercise, which could be harmful to your health.
Within 3-6 months, a significant number of our patients no longer have metabolic syndrome. But in order to keep yourself free of metabolic syndrome, you have to continue with the lifestyle changes. Our program takes six months to complete because the longer you continue with a program, the better the chances of turning good choices into good habits. In fact, 27 percent of our participants no longer have metabolic syndrome after six months in the program. However, if you do slip back into old habits, you can come back to the program to get back on track.