Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Metabolic Syndrome Health Center

Font Size

Metabolic Syndrome - Topic Overview

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems that include too much fat around the waist camera.gif, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and low HDL cholesterol.

Together, this group of health problems increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

What causes metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle that includes eating too many calories, being inactive, and gaining weight, particularly around your waist camera.gif. This lifestyle can lead to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body is unable to respond normally to insulin. If you have insulin resistance, your body cannot use insulin properly, and your blood sugar will begin to rise. Over time, this can lead to type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms?

If you have metabolic syndrome, you have several disorders of the metabolism at the same time, including obesity (usually around your waist), high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and resistance to insulin.

Why is metabolic syndrome important?

This syndrome raises your risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), even beyond that caused by high LDL cholesterol alone.1

What increases your chance of developing metabolic syndrome?

The things that make you more likely to develop metabolic syndrome include:1

  • Insulin resistance. This means that your body cannot use insulin properly.
  • Abdominal obesity. This means having too much fat around your waist.
  • Age. Your chances of developing metabolic syndrome increase as you get older.
  • Lack of exercise. If you do not exercise, you are more likely to be obese and develop metabolic syndrome.
  • Hormone imbalance. A hormone disorder such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which the female body produces too much of certain hormones, is associated with metabolic syndrome.
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes. Having parents or close relatives with diabetes is associated with metabolic syndrome.
  • A history of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
  • Race and ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders are at higher risk than whites for type 2 diabetes.

How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose metabolic syndrome with a physical exam, your medical history, and some simple blood tests.

You may be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of the risk factors listed in the table below. Note: These criteria were developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Other organizations may have different criteria for diagnosis.

Criteria for metabolic syndrome1

Risk factor

Defining level

Abdominal obesity (waist measurement)

Men: 40 in. (102 cm) or more

Women: 35 in. (88 cm) or more


150 mg/dL or higher, or taking medicine for high triglycerides

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

Men: Less than 40 mg/dL

Women: Less than 50 mg/dL

Or taking medicine for low HDL cholesterol

Blood pressure

130/85 mm Hg or higher, or taking medicine for high blood pressure

Fasting blood sugar

100 mg/dL or higher, or taking medicine for high blood sugar

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    salad and fruit in refrigerator
    How much do you know?
    person pinching fat
    What is it?
    woman on bathroom scale
    12 things that make it more likely.
    vegetables in basket
    What to do.
    Heart Foods Slideshow
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    Stroke Risk
    Lowering Blood Pressure Slideshow
    Salt Shockers
    Cholesterol Fact or Fiction
    Metabolic Syndrome 11 Things You Should Know
    Omega 3 Overview Slideshow

    WebMD Special Sections