How do I know if I have metabolic syndrome?

Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine
If you have three or more of the following factors, you have the metabolic syndrome:
  • Large waist measurement—35 inches or more for women,
  • 40 inches or more for men (this is also one of the measurements that determine if you need to lose weight)
  • Triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or higher
  • HDL cholesterol of less than 50 mg/dL in women, less than 40 mg/dL in men
  • Blood pressure of 130/85 mmHg or higher (either number counts as a raised blood pressure)
  • Fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dL or higher

Lifestyle changes are the main treatment for metabolic syndrome. Following a program like Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) can help you reverse or reduce all of the metabolic syndrome's risk factors, which will reduce your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Your first goal is to move toward getting your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) under control. Then you'll focus on the risk factors of the metabolic syndrome.

This answer from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. Robert S. Kaufmann.

Your doctor would take a clinical history and do some blood work. Here is what they might find:

1. a large waistline (35+ inches for women; 40+ inches for men)
2. high triglycerides--this is a type of fat found in the blood (150 mg/dl) or higher
3. low HDL (less than 50 mg/dl for women and 40 mg/dl for men)
4. high blood pressure (anything above 135/85
5. high fasting blood sugar (100+ mg/dl)

About 85% of people with type 2 diabetes also have metabolic syndrome.

Doctors have to individualize metabolic treatments for each patient based on the patient's risk factors and medical problems. Thus, one-on-one consultations are the most effective way to determine if a patient has metabolic syndrome.

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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.