What is Metabolic Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.


Most of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome have no symptoms, although a large waist circumference is a visible sign. If your blood sugar is very high, you might have signs and symptoms of diabetes — including increased thirst and urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.


Metabolic syndrome is closely linked to being overweight or obese and inactivity.
It's also linked to a condition called insulin resistance. Normally, your digestive system breaks down the foods you eat into sugar (glucose). Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps sugar enter your cells to be used as fuel.
In people with insulin resistance, cells don't respond normally to insulin, and glucose can't enter the cells as easily. As a result, glucose levels in your blood rise despite your body's attempt to control the glucose by churning out more and more insulin.

Risks Involved

People with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk for the following:

  • Atherosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease, and other diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls. These blockages narrow the arteries and restrict blood circulation throughout the body, but are especially dangerous when they affect the arteries leading to your brain, heart, kidneys and legs.

  • Coronary heart disease and heart attack. When the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits called plaque, they decrease the amount of blood and oxygen reaching the heart, which can cause chest pain (angina) or a heart attack.

  • Stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of your brain is interrupted by a blocked or burst blood vessel, which deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients. Within a few minutes, brain cells begin to die, resulting in brain damage, other complications, or death. 

  • Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body can no longer make enough insulin or is unable to use insulin properly. This causes sugars to build up in the blood and increases risks for kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

More than one in three (34%) of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome. Although these risks are significant, there is good news. Metabolic syndrome can be treated and you can reduce your risks for cardiovascular events by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a heart-healthy diet, getting adequate physical activity, and following your healthcare providers' instructions.