Insulin resistance syndrome; Syndrome X
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
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. The the body uses insulin less effectively than normal. 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:
- 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:
- Excess blood clotting
- Increased levels of blood substances that are a sign of inflammation throughout the body
Signs and tests
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
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.
- 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 benefit from daily low-dose aspirin.
People who smoke should quit.
People with metabolic syndrome have an increased long-term risk for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, and poor blood supply to the legs.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have signs or symptoms of this condition.
Inzucchi SE, Sherwin RS. Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 237.
Alberti KG, Eckel RH, Grundy SM, Zimmet PZ, Cleeman JI, Donato KA, et al. Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome: a joint interim statement of the International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and International Association for the Study of Obesity. Circulation. 2009;120:1640-1645.
Rosenzweig JL, Ferrannini E, Grundy SM, Haffner Sm, Heine RJ, Horton ES, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in patients at metabolic risk: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008; 93:3671-3689.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997-2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
How to Talk to Kids About Arthritis
Speed Walking: Take Your Walk to the Next Level
Health by the Numbers: Cholesterol
Should You Take Safflower Oil for a Healthier Heart?
Losing Weight After 40—Mission Impossible?
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.