Metabolic Syndrome

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of heart disease risk factors that increase your chance of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The condition is also known by other names including Syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, and dysmetabolic syndrome. According to a national health survey, more than one in five Americans has metabolic syndrome. The number of people with metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting more than 40 percent of people in their 60s and 70s.

How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?

You are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of the following:

Who typically has metabolic syndrome?

As you grow older, your risk of developing metabolic syndrome increases.

What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?

Usually, there are no immediate physical symptoms. Medical problems associated with the metabolic syndrome develop over time. If you are unsure if you have metabolic syndrome, see your health care provider. He or she will be able to make the diagnosis by obtaining the necessary tests, including blood pressure, lipid profile (triglycerides and HDL), and blood glucose.

What causes metabolic syndrome?

The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known. Many features of the metabolic syndrome are associated with "insulin resistance." Insulin resistance means that the body does not use insulin efficiently to lower glucose and triglyceride levels. Insulin resistance is a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors include diet, activity and perhaps interrupted sleep patterns (such as sleep apnea).

If I have metabolic syndrome, what health problems might develop?

Consistently high levels of insulin and glucose are linked to many harmful changes to the body, including:

How do I prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome?

Since physical inactivity and excess weight are the main underlying contributors to the development of metabolic syndrome, getting more exercise and losing weight can help reduce or prevent the complications associated with this condition. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to manage some of your underlying problems. Some of the ways you can reduce your risk:

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on:

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