Metabolic Syndrome

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome occurs when you are experiencing a combination of conditions at the same time that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. This condition is fairly common in the U.S., affecting up to a third of the population.

The conditions that cause Metabolic Syndrome include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. It is important to note that having just one of these conditions does not mean you have Metabolic Syndrome.

Metabolic Syndrome can only be diagnosed by your doctor through testing.

To diagnose metabolic syndrome, your provider will check your blood pressure and do blood tests to measure your blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Blood pressure

For most adults, a healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury—the units used to measure blood pressure).

You may have high blood pressure, one of the conditions of metabolic syndrome, if your blood pressure is consistently 130/85 mmHg or higher.

Blood sugar

A healthy blood sugar level for adults after 8 to 12 hours of fasting (not eating) is between 70 and 99 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter—the units used to measure blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol).

If your fasting blood sugar level is between 100–125 mg/dL, you have high blood sugar or prediabetes.

If your fasting blood sugar level is 126 mg/dL or higher, you may have diabetes, a condition of metabolic syndrome. Also, you may have metabolic syndrome if you are taking medicines to treat high blood sugar or diabetes.


HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, levels of 60 mg/dL and above can help lower your risk of heart disease.

You may have high blood cholesterol, one of the conditions of metabolic syndrome, if your HDL cholesterol levels are lower than 50 mg/dL for women and lower than 40 mg/dL for men.

Triglyceride levels

Healthy blood triglyceride levels are less than 150 mg/dL for adults.

You may have high blood triglycerides, one of the conditions of Metabolic Syndrome, if your triglyceride levels are consistently more than 150 mg/dL.

Currently, there is no routine testing recommended for Hypothyroidism, but the recommendation is that if you have a history of high blood pressure, high triglycerides and being overweight or obese, you should talk to your doctor to see if testing is right for you.

Your risk for developing Metabolic Syndrome increases as you age. Other risk factors include:

  • An unhealthy diet
  • An inactive lifestyle
  • Sleep deprivation
  • A family history of Diabetes or Metabolic Syndrome
  • Other preexisting medical conditions, including:
    • Obesity
    • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
    • Immune system conditions that cause skin conditions like Psoriasis
    • Cancer treatments that affect your immune system
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Circadian rhythm disorders
    • Sleep Apnea
  • Medicines used to treat allergies, bipolar disorder, depression, HIV, and schizophrenia
  • Women have a higher risk than men

If you have Metabolic Syndrome, your symptoms will depend on which of the conditions you have. Some symptoms can be seen, while others are not as obvious, High blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, usually do not cause any symptoms.

High blood sugar may cause the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination, especially at night
  • Tiredness and weakness

It is important to contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Since Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of conditions, call 911 if:

You are having heart attack symptoms

The major symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort

You are having stroke symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

You are having a diabetic emergency

  • hunger
  • clammy skin
  • profuse sweating
  • drowsiness or confusion
  • weakness or feeling faint
  • sudden loss of responsiveness
  • Physical movement (at least 30 minutes a day) is even better if it is outside with nature, also called green exercise
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein and whole grains… AKA: a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit saturated fats and sodium (salt) in your diet
  • Limit alcohol
  • Get enough sleep daily! 7-8 hours is recommended

If you have Metabolic Syndrome, we recommend you seek this treatment every year. All of these recommended treatments are covered by AHDI in our Standards of Care.

  • One visit to your doctor per year
  • One Lipid Panel measurement per year
  • One Fasting Blood Sugar or Glycohemoglobin test (Hgb A1c) per year

If you need additional resources to help manage your Metabolic Syndrome, visit the American Heart Association’s website