What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome, also called insulin resistance syndrome, is a group of traits and medical conditions linked to overweight and obesity that puts people at risk for both CVD and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is defined* as the presence of any three of the following 2:

large waist size—waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women

high triglycerides in the blood—triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or above, or taking medication for elevated triglyceride level

abnormal levels of cholesterol in the blood—HDL, or good, cholesterol level below 40 mg/dL for men and below 50 mg/dL for women, or taking medication for low HDL

high blood pressure—blood pressure level of 130/85 or above, or taking medication for elevated blood pressure

higher than normal blood glucose levels—fasting blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL or above, or taking medication for elevated blood glucose


In addition to type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome has been linked to the following health disorders:




nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

chronic kidney disease


However, not everyone with these disorders has insulin resistance, and some people may have insulin resistance without getting these disorders.

People who are obese or who have metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, or prediabetes often also have low-level inflammation throughout the body and blood clotting defects that increase the risk of developing blood clots in the arteries. These conditions contribute to increased risk for CVD.

*Similar definitions have been developed by the World Health Organization and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

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