Metabolic Syndrome


Lt Col Reynolds
Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that increases a person’s risk for heart disease, as well as other health issues, such as diabetes and stroke. In general, a person who has metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes, as someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome.[1] Dr. Bethea, can you tell us more about metabolic syndrome?

Dr. Bethea
Absolutely, Dr. Reynolds. You’re right about the health challenges of metabolic syndrome. In fact, this condition is often referred to as pre-diabetes.

Any one of the metabolic syndrome risk factors can be developed by itself, but they often occur together. For that reason, healthcare providers will diagnose a patient with metabolic syndrome if at least three of the following factors are present:

  • Large waistline
  • Abnormally high triglyceride level
  • Abnormally low HDL cholesterol level
  • Unusually high blood pressure, or
  • Unusually high fasting blood sugar

Even if a patient is taking medications for these conditions, a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can still be made. It’s important to note that if an adult is obese, losing a relatively small percentage of their body weight — as little as five to ten percent — can reduce some of the risks associated with metabolic syndrome. The long-range target is to lower body mass index, or BMI, to less than 25.0.

[1] “What Are the Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity?” NATIONAL HEART, LUNG, AND BLOOD INSTITUTE, databriefs/db50.htm, accessed July 7, 2016; “What Is Metabolic Syndrome?” WebMD,, accessed July 7, 2016.