What is the definition of Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the chance of having coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

What are the alternative names for Metabolic Syndrome?

Insulin resistance syndrome; Syndrome X

What are the causes for Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is very common in the United States. About one fourth of Americans are affected. Doctors are not sure whether the syndrome is due to one single cause. But many of the risks for the syndrome are related to obesity. Many people with metabolic syndrome used to be told they had pre-diabetes, early hypertension (high blood pressure) or mild hyperlipidemia (high fats in the blood).

The two most important risk factors for metabolic syndrome are:

  • Extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body (central obesity). This body type may be described as "apple-shaped."
  • Insulin resistance -- Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin is needed to help control the amount of sugar in the blood. Insulin resistance means that some cells in the body use insulin less effectively than normal. As a result, blood sugar level rises, which causes insulin to rise. This may increase the amount of body fat.

Other risk factors include:

  • Aging
  • Genes that make you more likely to develop this condition
  • Changes in male, female, and stress hormones
  • Lack of exercise

People who have metabolic syndrome often have one or more other factors that may be linked with the condition, including:

  • Increased risk for blood clotting
  • Increased levels of blood substances that are a sign of inflammation throughout the body
  • Small amounts of a protein called albumin in the urine

What are the current treatments for Metabolic Syndrome?

The goal of treatment is to reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Your provider will recommend lifestyle changes or medicines:

  • Lose weight. The goal is to lose between 7% and 10% of your current weight. You will probably need to eat 500 to 1,000 fewer calories per day. A variety of diet options can help people achieve this goal. There is no single ‘best’ diet to lose weight.
  • Get 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise such as walking. Do exercises to strengthen your muscles 2 days a week. High intensity exercise for shorter periods is another option. Check with your provider to see if you are healthy enough to start a new exercise program.
  • Lower your cholesterol by eating healthier foods, losing weight, exercising, and taking cholesterol-lowering medicines, if needed. 
  • Lower your blood pressure by eating less salt, losing weight, exercising, and taking medicine, if needed.

Your provider may recommend daily low-dose aspirin.

If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Ask your provider for help quitting. There are medicines and programs that can help you quit.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Metabolic Syndrome?

People with metabolic syndrome have an increased long-term risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, and poor blood supply to the legs.

When should I contact a medical professional for Metabolic Syndrome?

Call your provider if you have signs or symptoms of this condition.

Abdominal girth measurement


American Heart Association website. About metabolic syndrome. www.heart.org/en/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome/about-metabolic-syndrome. Updated July 31, 2016. Accessed August 18, 2020.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Metabolic syndrome. www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome. Accessed August 18, 2020.

Raynor HA, Champagne CM. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: interventions for the treatment of overweight and obesity in adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(1):129-147. PMID: 26718656 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26718656/.

Ruderman NB, Shulman GI. Metabolic syndrome. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 43.

  • Condition: Metabolic Syndrome
  • Journal: Journal of diabetes research
  • Treatment Used: Ascophyllum Nodosum and Fucus Vesiculosus (Gdue)
  • Number of Patients: 505
  • Published —
This study assessed the effectiveness of Gdue, a nutraceutical obtained from the association of two marine algae, Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus, in the treatment of patients with metabolic syndrome.
  • Condition: Metabolic Syndrome
  • Journal: Journal of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system : JRAAS
  • Treatment Used: Losartan and Eprosartan
  • Number of Patients: 16
  • Published —
This study compared the effects of losartan and eprosartan on serum uric acid changes induced by oral fructose load in patients with metabolic syndrome.