Metabolic Syndrome

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome (also called syndrome X) is a group of risk factors for heart disease. Many people who have type 2 diabetes also have metabolic syndrome.

You have metabolic syndrome if at least 3 of the following are true:

  • You are overweight or obese and you carry the weight around your middle. For men, this means a waist that measures greater than 40 inches around. For women, it means a waist that measures greater than 35 inches around.
  • You have high blood pressure (130/85 mm Hg or greater).
  • You have a high amount of sugar in your blood (a fasting blood sugar of 110 mg/dL or greater).
  • You have a high amount of fat in your blood (a triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or greater).
  • You have low HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol). For men, this means an HDL level less than 40 mg/dL. For women, this means an HDL level less than 50 mg/dL.

The more of these risk factors you have, the higher your risk of heart disease. Even if your cholesterol level is normal, you still may be at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

What causes metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome results from eating a diet that has too many calories and too much saturated fat, and not getting enough physical activity. You can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes by improving your eating habits, getting more physical activity and losing weight. If you smoke, you should stop smoking.

Can physical activity help reduce my risk?

Yes. Not being active is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. "Exercise: A Healthy Habit to Start and Keep" provides useful tips on adding more physical activity to your life.

Can a healthy diet help reduce my risk?

Yes, what you eat can affect your health. "Nutrition: How to Make Healthier Food Choices" provides information about how to eat a more healthy diet. "Working With Your Doctor to Overcome Overweight and Obesity" offers tips on losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

More Information

For more information talk to your doctor.

Source

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff.

Metabolic Syndrome: Time for Action by Darwin Deen, M.D., M.S., (American Family Physician June 15, 2004, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040615/2875.html)

Reviewed/Updated: 11/06
Created: 01/05