Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a set of disorders that increase the risks of developing cardiovascular problems and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.


Metabolic Syndrome is also called Syndrome X or dysmetabolic syndrome in some literature. Abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, blood glucose tolerance, and insulin resistance are some of the abnormalities associated with this syndrome.

In industrial countries, about 20 to 30 per cent of the population have metabolic syndrome. This syndrome greatly escalates the possibility of developing diabetes from 9 to 30-fold. On the other hand, it increases the probability of developing cardiovascular illness two to four times.

Definition and Diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome

Many international organizations define and characterize metabolic syndrome. However, their description of this disease differs from each other.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this syndrome is defined as having the manifestation of one of the following diseases. These diseases include: diabetes, resistance to insulin, reduced glucose tolerance and compromised fasting glucose.

In addition to those diseases, any two of the subsequent conditions entails that the person has metabolic syndrome. The blood pressure is greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg. The body mass index of the individual is greater than 30. The excreted albumin is greater than 20 µg/min. Finally, the amount of triglycerides is equal to or greater than 1.7 mmol/ L.

On the other hand, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), central obesity is the main characteristic of metabolic syndrome. When the body mass index of the individual is greater than 30, central obesity can be anticipated.

This is then accompanied by the presence of any of the following conditions. The blood pressure is less than 130/85 mmHg. The triglyceride levels are greater than 150 mg/dl. The amount of fasting blood sugar is greater than 100 mg/dl. Lastly, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or the amount of “good” cholesterol, is less than 40 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women.

In the consensus of the United States National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III, at least three of the subsequent conditions should be met before the problem can be classified as metabolic syndrome.

These conditions are comprised as having a waist circumference greater than or equal to 40 inches in men and 36 inches in women. The fasting blood sugar is greater than or equal to 6.1 mmol/L. The triglyceride level is the same as described by the WHO. The good cholesterol levels and blood pressure are the same as described by the IDF.

Determining which organization to follow depends on the healthcare provider.

Risk for Developing Metabolic Syndrome

Generally, like any other kind of disease, certain factors predispose the development of this disease. This may be in the form of environmental and genetic factors.

Family history that includes diabetes or cardiovascular diseases increases the probability of having the disorder.

Environmental factors include significant weight gain, inactive lifestyle, and smoking. Weight gain of 5 pounds or greater per year increases the risk by almost 45 per cent.

According to statistics, five per cent of individuals with normal body weight have metabolic syndrome. Twenty-two per cent of overweight individuals have also the same problem. Sixty per cent of the obese similarly have this syndrome. This makes obesity as the main determining factor. However, it is still possible for normal-sized individuals to have this disease.

Aside from the facts mentioned above, aging is also another factor. Individuals over the age of 50 are at risk. This is especially true in women at their post-menopausal period.

Stress, according to some studies, can be one of the principal causes of the disease. This primarily causes a hormonal imbalance. This may eventually lead to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Moreover, recent studies show that certain diseases are also connected to metabolic syndrome. These diseases are psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia may also have a predilection to developing the disease because these problems are also characterized by an inactive lifestyle and deprived eating habits.

Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome

In treating this disease, there are two treatment goals. The first one is to eliminate the etiologic factor which is mainly the unhealthy lifestyle of the individual. The second one is to address each problem associated with metabolic syndrome.

The primary treatment of metabolic syndrome is by making the lifestyle of the individual healthy. This can be done through changing the diet and daily activities of the individual. A healthy lifestyle includes eating a proper and balanced diet. This means that calorie intake per day should be moderately limited. This will make the body lose five to ten per cent of its body mass.

In addition, exercises should be included in the daily routine of the individual. Doing cardiopulmonary exercises to increase metabolism are beneficial. A healthy individual exercises at least 30 minutes every day.

If changing the lifestyle is proven to be insufficient because of problems in compliance, medications are usually prescribed. Mostly, each disorder in the metabolic syndrome is treated independently. High blood pressure can be lowered by taking diuretics. On the other hand, Metformin can be used to reduce insulin resistance.