Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Metabolic syndrome puts a person at risk for: Metabolic syndrome is characterized by:

  • Causes

    The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known. It believed to be due to a combination of factors, such as:

    • Genetic factors
    • Central

    • Lack of physical activity
    • Poor diet

  • Definition

    Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Metabolic syndrome puts a person at risk for:

    • Diabetes
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Heart attack
    • Stroke
    • Peripheral vascular disease

    Metabolic syndrome is characterized by:

    • Central


      —high amount of fat around the waist

    • Low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
    • High levels of triglycerides—type of fat measured in the blood
    • Elevated blood pressure
    • Elevated fasting glucose level
    Coronary Heart Disease
    Stereostatic Biopsy
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  • Diagnosis

    You may be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you have at least three of the following:

    • Waist measurement—greater than 40 inches in Caucasian men (35 inches in Asian men) or 35 inches in Caucasian women (30 inches in Asian women)
    • Fasting glucose level—greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL* (5.55 mmol/L)
    • Triglyceride level—greater than or equal to 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)
    • HDL cholesterol—less than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L) in men and less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women
    • Blood pressure—greater than or equal to 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)

    *mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter blood, mmol/L = millimoles per liter blood

  • Prevention

    To reduce your chances of metabolic syndrome, take these steps:

    • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to



    • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
    • Work up to 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise at least four days per week.
    • Drink alcohol in moderation. This means no more than two drinks daily for men, one drink daily for women.

  • Risk Factors

    Metabolic syndrome is more common in people who are Hispanic, Caucasian, or African American. Factors that increase your risk of metabolic syndrome include:

    • Obesity

    • Having disorders or conditions associated with metabolic disorder such as:

      • Diabetes
      • High blood pressure
      • Cholesterol problems
      • Coronary artery disease
      • Polycystic ovary syndrome
    • Genes—Having a family history of the disorders listed above
    • Physical inactivity
    • Poor diet

    • Unhealthy habits, such as

    • Certain medications, such as atypical antipsychotics

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms include:

    • Obesity
    • Dark, velvety skin discoloration

  • Treatment

    The treatment of metabolic syndrome involves:

    • Treatment of underlying causes
    • Treatment of specific metabolic abnormality

    Gastric bypass

    or other weight loss surgery may be helpful to treat metabolic syndrome. Talk to your doctor to learn if this is an option for you.