What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic risk factors that come together in a single individual. These metabolic factors include insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), cholesterol abnormalities, and an increased risk for blood clotting. Affected individuals are most often overweight or obese. An association between certain metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease has been known since the 1940s.
Metabolic syndrome is considered to be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes that arises due to insulin resistance and an abnormal function and pattern of body fat. Insulin resistance refers to the diminished ability of cells to respond to the action of insulin in promoting the transport of the sugar glucose, from blood into muscles and other tissues.
Metabolic syndrome is also known as syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, or dysmetabolic syndrome.
How is metabolic syndrome defined?
Based on the guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the American Heart Association (AHA), any three of the following traits in the same individual meet the criteria for the metabolic syndrome:
- Abdominal obesity: a waist circumference of 102 cm (40 in) or more in men and 88 cm (35 inches) or more in women. For Asian Americans, the cutoff values are ≥90 cm (35 in) in men or ≥80 cm (32 in) in women
- Serum triglycerides 150 mg/dl or above.
- HDL cholesterol 40mg/dl or lower in men and 50mg/dl or lower in women.
- Blood pressure of 130/85 or more.
- Fasting blood glucose of 100 mg/dl or above.
How common is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is quite common. Approximately 32% of the population in the U.S. has metabolic syndrome, and about 85% of those with type 2 diabetes have metabolic syndrome. Around 25% of adults in Europe and Latin America are estimated to have the condition, and rates are rising in developing East Asian countries. Within the US, Mexican Americans have the highest prevalence of metabolic syndrome. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with age, and about 40% of people over 60 are affected.