Metabolic Syndrome:

What is metabolic syndrome?Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that make a person more likely to get heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

To have metabolic syndrome, a person must have at least 3 of these 5 conditions:

Obesity with a large belly – Doctors use the term "obese" for people who have a "body mass index" or "BMI" of 30 or more. A large belly is based on waist measurement. The exact definition depends on your sex and ethnic background.


Increased blood pressure – Blood pressure measurements have 2 numbers. For instance, your doctor might say your blood pressure is "140 over 90." The top number is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is contracting. The bottom number is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is relaxed. You have increased blood pressure if:


The top number is 130 or higher


The bottom number is 85 or higher


You take medicine for high blood pressure


High blood sugar – All the cells in your body need sugar to work normally. Sugar gets into the cells with the help of a hormone called insulin. If there is not enough insulin, or if the body stops responding to insulin, sugar builds up in the blood. You have high blood sugar if your blood sugar is greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL when tested after you have not had anything to eat or drink (except water) for 8 hours. This is known as a "fasting" blood sugar test.


High triglycerides – Triglycerides are fat-like substances in the blood. You have high triglycerides if your triglycerides are higher than 150 mg/dL.


Low HDL cholesterol – HDL is the "good cholesterol." That's because having high HDL levels lowers your risk of heart attacks and other health problems. You have low HDL cholesterol if your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL if you're a man or less than 50 mg/dL if you're a woman.


Some doctors don't think it is important use the term "metabolic syndrome" for this group of conditions. That's because the treatment of the metabolic syndrome is no different than the treatment of each individual condition. So, giving a special name to the problem is not really needed. The best and safest treatment for these conditions is to lose weight by eating less and exercising more. Losing weight will improve your waist size, your triglyceride levels, and your high blood pressure.

Are there tests for metabolic syndrome?Yes. As part of an exam, a doctor or nurse will:

Take your blood pressure.


Measure your height and weight to calculate your BMI.


Measure the widest part of your belly with a tape measure. This measurement is called your "waist circumference" (figure 1).


You will also get blood tests to measure your blood sugar and blood lipids. "Lipids" is another word for fats. Blood lipids include triglycerides and cholesterol.

Can metabolic syndrome be prevented?You can lower your chances of getting metabolic syndrome by:

Losing weight if you are overweight

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products, but not a lot of meat or fatty foods

Walking or doing some form of physical activity on most days of the week, and in general being as physically active as possible

Quitting smoking, if you smoke


How is metabolic syndrome treated?Treatments include:

Diet – Healthy diets that can help you lose weight include:


The Mediterranean diet – This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil. It can help to lower your weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar, and improve lipid levels.


The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet – This diet is low in salt and fat. It includes 4 to 5 servings each of fruits and vegetables and 2 to 3 servings of low-fat dairy products per day. This diet can lower your blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar, and improve lipid levels.


A high-fiber diet – Increasing dietary fiber (to at least 30 grams daily) can lower blood pressure and weight. Fiber is normally found in beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits. The nutrition label on packaged foods can show you how much fiber you are getting in each serving.


Exercise – Doctors recommend that people exercise at least 30 minutes a day, on 5 or more days of the week. If you can't exercise for 30 minutes at a time, try to exercise for 10 minutes at a time, 3 or 4 times a day. Brisk walking is a good choice.



Medicines – Doctors often recommend medicines to lower blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar.


Reference: UpToDate