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 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. It is estimated that 22% of overweight and 60% of obese individuals 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) which account for up to 50% of the cases 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
  • Elevation of proinflammatory and/or prothrombotic states (plasminogen activator inhibitor, IL6, C reactive protein)

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 doctor about metabolic syndrome?
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