Metabolic syndrome (patient information)

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Metabolic syndrome (patient information)


What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?

When to seek urgent medical care?


Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Metabolic syndrome (patient information)?

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms of Metabolic syndrome?

Extra weight around your waist (central or abdominal obesity).

What causes Metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is becoming more and more common in the United States. Researchers are not sure whether the syndrome is due to one single cause, but all of the risks for the syndrome are related to obesity.

The two most important risk factors for metabolic syndrome are:

  • Extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body (central obesity). The body may be described as "apple-shaped."
  • Insulin resistance, in which the body cannot use insulin effectively. Insulin is needed to help control the amount of sugar in the body. As a result, blood sugar and fat levels rise.

Other risk factors include:

  • Aging
  • Genes that make you more likely to develop this condition
  • Hormone changes
  • Lack of exercise

People who have metabolic syndrome often have two other problems that can either cause the condition or make it worse:

Who is at highest risk?

Patients who are obese and have family history are at increased risks.

When to seek urgent medical care?

Call your health care provider if you have signs or symptoms of this condition.



According to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, metabolic syndrome is present if you have three or more of the following signs:

  • Blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85 mmHg
  • Fasting blood sugar (glucose) equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL
  • Large waist circumference (length around the waist):
    • Men - 40 inches or more
    • Women - 35 inches or more
  • Low HDL cholesterol:
    • Men - under 40 mg/dL
    • Women - under 50 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL

Tests that may be done to diagnose metabolic syndrome include:

Treatment options

The goal of treatment is to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes or medicines to help reduce your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Recommendations include:

  • Lose weight. The goal is to lose between 7% and 10% of your current weight. You will probably need to eat 500 - 1,000 fewer calories per day.
  • Get 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as walking, 5 - 7 days per week.
  • Lower your cholesterol using weight loss, exercise, and cholesterol lowering medicines, if needed.
  • Lower your blood pressure using weight loss, exercise, and medicine, if needed.

Some people may need to take daily low-dose aspirin. People who smoke should quit.

Where to find medical care for Metabolic syndrome?

Directions to Hospitals Treating Metabolic syndrome

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

People with metabolic syndrome have an increased long-term risk for developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Possible complications

Sources Template:WSTemplate:WH