Metabolic Syndrome, Adult

Metabolic syndrome descibes a group of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. This syndrome has other names including Insulin Resistance Syndrome. The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or developing diabetes. These risk factors include:

  • High blood sugar.

  • High blood triglyceride (a fat found in the blood) level.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Abdominal obesity (your extra weight is around your waist instead of your hips).

  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein, HDL (good blood cholesterol).

If you have any three of these risk factors, you have metabolic syndrome. If you have even one of these factors, you should make lifestyle changes to improve your health in order to prevent serious health diseases.

In people with metabolic syndrome, the cells do not respond properly to insulin. This can lead to high levels of glucose in the blood, which can interfere with normal body processes. Eventually, this can cause high blood pressure and higher fat levels in the blood, and inflammation of your blood vessels. The result can be heart disease and stroke.


  • Eating a diet rich in calories and saturated fat.

  • Too little physical activity.

  • Being overweight.

Other underlying causes are:

  • Family history (genetics).

  • Ethnicity (South Asians are at a higher risk).

  • Older age (your chances of developing metabolic syndrome are higher as you grow older).

  • Insulin resistance.


By itself, metabolic syndrome has no symptoms. However, you might have symptoms of diabetes (high blood sugar) or high blood pressure, such as:

  • Increased thirst, urination, and tiredness.

  • Dizzy spells.

  • Dull headaches that are unusual for you.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Nosebleeds.


Your caregiver may make a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome if you have at least three of these factors:

  • If you are overweight mostly around the waist. This means a waistline greater than 40" in men and more than 35" in women. The waistline limits are 31 to 35 inches for women and 37 to 39 inches for men. In those who have certain genetic risk factors, such as having a family history of diabetes or being of Asian descent.

  • If you have a blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or more, or if you are being treated for high blood pressure.

  • If your blood triglyceride level is 150 mg/dL or more, or you are being treated for high levels of triglyceride.

  • If the level of HDL in your blood is below 40 mg/dL in men, less than 50 mg/dL in women, or you are receiving treatment for low levels of HDL.

  • If the level of sugar in your blood is high with fasting blood sugar level of 110 mg/dL or more, or you are under treatment for diabetes.


Your caregiver may have you make lifestyle changes, which may include:

  • Exercise.

  • Losing weight.

  • Maintaining a healthy diet.

  • Quitting smoking.

The lifestyle changes listed above are key in reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke. Medicines may also be prescribed to help your body respond to insulin better and to reduce your blood pressure and blood fat levels. Aspirin may be recommended to reduce risks of heart disease or stroke.


  • Exercise.

  • Measure your waist at regular intervals just above the hipbones after you have breathed out.

  • Maintain a healthy diet.

  • Eat fruits, such as apples, oranges, and pears.

  • Eat vegetables.

  • Eat legumes, such as kidney beans, peas, and lentils.

  • Eat food rich in soluble fiber, such as whole grain cereal, oatmeal, and oat bran.

  • Use olive or safflower oils and avoid saturated fats.

  • Eat nuts.

  • Limit the amount of salt you eat or add to food.

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

  • Include fish in your diet, if possible.

  • Stop smoking if you are a smoker.

  • Maintain regular follow-up appointments.

  • Follow your caregiver's advice.


  • You feel very tired or fatigued.

  • You develop excessive thirst.

  • You pass large quantities of urine.

  • You are putting on weight around your waist rather than losing weight.

  • You develop headaches over and over again.

  • You have off-and-on dizzy spells.


  • You develop nosebleeds.

  • You develop sudden blurred vision.

  • You develop sudden dizzy spells.

  • You develop chest pains, trouble breathing, or feel an abnormal or irregular heart beat.

  • You have a fainting episode.

  • You develop any sudden trouble speaking and/or swallowing.

  • You develop sudden weakness in one arm and/or one leg.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.