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Metabolic syndrome is
a group of health problems that include too much
fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure,
high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and low HDL
Together, this group of health problems increases
your risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle that includes eating too many calories,
being inactive, and gaining weight, particularly
around your waist. This lifestyle can lead to
insulin resistance, a condition in which the body is
unable to respond normally to insulin. If you have insulin resistance, your
body cannot use insulin properly, and your blood sugar will begin to rise. Over
time, this can lead to
type 2 diabetes.
If you have metabolic
syndrome, you have several disorders of the metabolism at the same time,
including obesity (usually around your waist), high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and resistance to insulin.
This syndrome raises your risk for
coronary artery disease (CAD), even beyond that caused
by high LDL cholesterol alone.1
The things that make you more likely to develop
metabolic syndrome include:1
can diagnose metabolic syndrome with a physical exam, your medical history, and
some simple blood tests.
You may be diagnosed with metabolic
syndrome if you have three or more of the risk factors listed in the table
below. Note: These criteria were developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Other organizations may have different criteria for
Abdominal obesity (waist
Men: 40 in. (102 cm) or more
Women: 35 in. (88 cm) or more
150 mg/dL or higher, or taking medicine
for high triglycerides
High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
Men: Less than 40 mg/dL
Women: Less than 50 mg/dL
Or taking medicine for low HDL
130/85 mm Hg or higher, or taking
medicine for high blood pressure
Fasting blood sugar
100 mg/dL or higher, or taking medicine
for high blood sugar
The main goal
of treatment is to reduce your risk of
coronary artery disease (CAD) and diabetes. The first
approaches in treating metabolic syndrome are:
Grundy SM, et al. (2005). Diagnosis and management of
the metabolic syndrome: An American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and
Blood Institute Scientific Statement. Circulation,
Other Works Consulted
Alberti K, et al. (2009). Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome: A joint interim statement of the International Diabetes Federation Task Force of Epidemiology and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and International Association for the Study of Obesity. Circulation, 120(16): 1640–1645.
Brownlee M, et al. (2011). Complications of diabetes mellitus. In S Melmed et al., eds., Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, 12th ed., pp. 1462–1551. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Brunzell JD (2010). Diagnosis and treatment of dyslipidemia. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 9, chap. 6. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.
Eckel RH (2012). The metabolic sydrome. In DL Longo et al., eds., Harrison's Principals of Internal Medicine, 18th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1992–1997. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hawkins M, Rossetti L (2005). Insulin resistance and
its role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. In Joslin's Diabetes Mellitus, 14th ed., pp. 425–448. Philadelphia: Lippincott
Williams and Wilkins.
Masharani U, German MS (2011). Pancreatic hormones and diabetes mellitus. In DG Gardner, D Shoback, eds., Greenspan's Basic and Clinical Endocrinology, 9th ed., pp. 573–655. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
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