Metabolic syndrome may be diagnosed when a patient has a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Individuals with metabolic syndrome have about a two-fold increase in risk for heart attack or stroke when compared with individuals who do not have metabolic syndrome. Risk increases when more components of metabolic syndrome are present.
Metabolic syndrome is also associated with a generalized metabolic disorder called insulin resistance, which prevents people from using insulin efficiently. Therefore, metabolic syndrome is also sometimes called insulin resistance syndrome.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.
This content was last reviewed on 05/14/2014.