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How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?

Agueda Hernandez, MD
Family Medicine
Your doctor may not be looking for metabolic syndrome, unless more than one of the risk factors raises concerns. Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that often come up during routine physical exams, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels.

The other risk factor is a large waist circumference, greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. Genetic risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes, can lower the waist circumference limit for an individual.

In addition, you may have metabolic syndrome if you have one or more of the following traits:
  • A triglyceride level higher than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L).
  • Reduced HDL ("good") cholesterol — less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women.
  • Increased blood pressure, meaning a systolic (top number) blood pressure measurement of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or more or a diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure measurement of 85 mm Hg or more.
  • Elevated fasting blood sugar (blood glucose) of 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher. 
Rick Sayegh
Rick Sayegh on behalf of MDLIVE
Internal Medicine
• Abdominal obesity, defined as a waist circumference in men >102 cm (40 in) and in women >88 cm (35 in)

• Serum triglycerides ≥150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) or drug treatment for elevated triglycerides

• Serum HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dL (1 mmol/L) in men and <50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women or drug treatment for low HDL

• Blood pressure ≥130/85 mmHg or drug treatment for elevated blood pressure

• Fasting plasma glucose ≥100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or drug treatment for elevated blood glucose.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.