Metabolic Syndrome
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Metabolic Syndrome

(Syndrome X; Insulin Resistance Syndrome; Dysmetabolic Syndrome)

Main Page | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Screening | Reducing Your Risk | Talking to Your Doctor | Resource Guide

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Metabolic syndrome is not just one disease. Rather, it is a group of disorders of your body’s metabolism. Metabolism is the body’s system, including organs and tissues, responsible for taking in food, processing food for energy so that your body can function properly, and then getting rid of any waste products. High blood pressure , obesity , glucose intolerance, and elevated cholesterol all lie within this grouping of metabolic disorders.

Having metabolic syndrome puts you at risk for a number of different and potentially serious diseases and disorders, including diabetes , heart disease , and stroke .


Metabolic syndrome has been becoming more and more common. Approximately 47 million people in the US have metabolic syndrome, which translates to approximately one in four American adults. For older adults, there has been a very drastic increase in the number of people with metabolic syndrome; in those ages 60 and up, more than 40% have metabolic syndrome.


The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known. It believed to be due to a combination of genetic factors (health factors that you inherited from your family) and environmental factors (lifestyle choices that you make including the types of food you eat and your level of physical activity).

Having metabolic syndrome means you have a number of metabolic disorders all at the same time. Some of these disorders include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Obesity (in particular, abdominal obesity)
  • Low HDL ("the good choleseterol")
  • High triglycerides (a form of fat in the bloodstream)
  • Glucose intolerance

The more of the above metabolic disorders you have, the more likely it is that you will be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. A study found that men with four or five of the above metabolic disorders are nearly four times more likely to have a heart attack and more than 24 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (a condition in which your body either cannot produce insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it produces) than men with none of these disorders.

Treatment Goals

It is important to have regular check-ups with your doctor to get tested for and to manage these metabolic disorders before they develop into much more serious health conditions.

What are the risk factors for metabolic syndrome
What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome
How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?
What are the treatments for metabolic syndrome?
Are there screening tests for metabolic syndrome ?
How can I reduce my risk of metabolic syndrome?
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider about metabolic syndrome?
Where can I get more information about metabolic syndrome?


Ford ES, Giles WH, Dietz WH. Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JAMA. 2002;287:356-359.

Gami AS, Witt BJ, Howard DE, et al. Metabolic syndrome and risk of incident cardiovascular events and death: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007;49:403-414.

Grundy SM. Metabolic syndrome: a multiplex cardiovascular risk factor. J Clin Endocrinol. 2007; 92:399-404.

Grundy SM, Cleeman JI, Daniels SR, et al. Diagnosis and management of the metabolic syndrome. Circulation. 2005;112:e285-e290.

Lorenzo C, Serrano-Rios M, Martinez-Larrad MT, et al. Central adiposity determines prevalence differences of the metabolic syndrome. Obes Res. 2003;11:1480-87.

Metabolic syndrome. American Heart Association website. Available at: . Accessed July 28, 2005.

Metabolic syndrome. The Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: . Accessed July 28, 2005.

Metabolic syndrome. The Mayo Clinic website. Available at: . Accessed July 28, 2005.

Metabolic syndrome increases risk of coronary death. American Heart Association website. Available at: . Accessed July 28, 2005.

Metabolic syndrome may be an important link to stroke. American Heart Association website. Available at: . Accessed July 28, 2005.

Last reviewed May 2007 by David Juan, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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