Metabolic Syndrome


Article Author:
Supreeya Swarup


Article Editor:
Roman Zeltser


Editors In Chief:
Jon Parham
Abigail Frank
Jon Sivoravong


Managing Editors:
Avais Raja
Orawan Chaigasame
Carrie Smith
Abdul Waheed
Khalid Alsayouri
Frank Smeeks
Kristina Soman-Faulkner
Radia Jamil
Patrick Le
Sobhan Daneshfar
Anoosh Zafar Gondal
Saad Nazir
William Gossman
Pritesh Sheth
Hassam Zulfiqar
Navid Mahabadi
Steve Bhimji
John Shell
Matthew Varacallo
Heba Mahdy
Ahmad Malik
Mark Pellegrini
James Hughes
Beata Beatty
Nazia Sadiq
Hajira Basit
Phillip Hynes
Tehmina Warsi


Updated:
2/28/2019 8:13:54 PM

Introduction

Metabolic syndrome is an accumulation of several disorders, which together raise the risk of an individual developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes mellitus, and vascular and neurological complications such as a cerebrovascular accident. Metabolic disarrangement becomes a syndrome if the patient has any three of the following:

  • Waist circumference more than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women
  • Elevated triglycerides 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater
  • Reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women
  • Elevated fasting glucose of l00 mg/dL or greater
  • Blood pressure values of systolic 130 mmHg or higher and/or diastolic 85 mmHg or higher

Metabolic syndrome has serious implications on an individual’s health and healthcare costs. It is necessary to recognize the rising prevalence of metabolic syndrome in America as through intervention the progression of the syndrome can be halted and potentially reversed.[1][2][3]

Etiology

The underlying etiology of metabolic syndrome is extra weight, obesity, lack of physical activity, and genetic predisposition. The crux of the syndrome is a buildup of adipose tissue and tissue dysfunction that in turn leads to insulin resistance. Proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor, leptin, adiponectin, plasminogen activator inhibitor, and resistin, are released from the enlarged adipose tissue, which alters and impacts insulin handling adversely. Insulin resistance can be acquired or maybe due to genetic disposition. Impairment of the signaling pathway, insulin receptor defects, and defective insulin secretion can all contribute towards insulin resistance. Over time, the culmination of this cause development of metabolic syndrome that presents as vascular and autonomic damage.[4][5][6]

The distribution of body fat is also important, and it is known that upper body fat plays a strong role in developing insulin resistance. Fat accumulation can be intraperitoneal (visceral fat) or subcutaneous.  Visceral fat may contribute to insulin resistance more strongly than subcutaneous fat. However, both are known to play a role in the development of metabolic syndrome. In upper body obesity, high levels of nonesterified fatty acids are released from the adipose tissue causing lipid to accumulate in other parts of the body such as liver and muscle, further perpetuating insulin resistance.

Epidemiology

In the United States, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in adults 18 years and older is continuing to be significant. Data shows that the prevalence of this disease process increased from the 1980s to 2012 by 35%. In the 1980s, the incidence was noted to be 25.3% and increased to 34.2% in 2012. However, the most recent data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows the prevalence is on a decline with 24% in men and 22% in women.[7][8]

Pathophysiology

Metabolic syndrome adversely influences several body systems.  Insulin resistance causes microvascular damage, which predisposes a patient to endothelial dysfunction, vascular resistance, hypertension, and vessel wall inflammation. Endothelial damage can impact the homeostasis of the body causing atherosclerotic disease and development of hypertension. Furthermore, hypertension adversely affects several body functions including increased vascular resistance and stiffness causing peripheral vascular disease, structural heart disease comprising of left ventricular hypertrophy and cardiomyopathy, and leading to renal impairment.

Accumulated effects of endothelial dysfunction and hypertension due to metabolic syndrome can further result in ischemic heart disease. Endothelial dysfunction due to increased levels of plasminogen activator type 1 and adipokine levels can cause thrombogenicity of the blood and hypertension causes vascular resistance through which coronary artery disease can develop. Also, dyslipidemia associated with metabolic syndrome can drive the atherosclerotic process leading to symptomatic ischemic heart disease.[9][10]

Histopathology

The proinflammatory cytokines released from the adipose tissue are responsible for the development of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Specifically, at low levels, adiponectin is associated with the formation of coronary artery disease in addition to causing insulin resistance and inflammation. Metabolic syndrome can also trigger a spectrum of liver damage by causing steatosis that can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Histologically, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis presents as steatosis, hepatocyte ballooning, lobular inflammation, Mallory bodies, and pericellular fibrosis. The exact mechanism of developing non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is unknown however it has been linked to metabolic syndrome and specifically insulin resistance and proinflammatory state.

History and Physical

History and physical exam are vital for disease recognition, treatment, and prevention. The patient encounter starts with vitals and general appearance, which can clue a clinician into potential diseases such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome. Although no identified genetic group which is predisposed to metabolic syndrome, there are genetic disorders which may predispose individuals to the development of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. a Therefore, a patient should be questioned about any such potential genetic disorders. Social and lifestyle history should also be obtained, as there are modifiable factors that can significantly impact the development of metabolic syndrome.  A physical exam is crucial for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome as one of the criteria involves the waist circumference. Furthermore, if suspected, the patient should be screened for physical manifestations of insulin resistance such as peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, acanthosis nigricans. A clinician should listen for arterial bruits that could be due to atherosclerotic disease. Patients with dyslipidemia may present with xanthomas.  Thus, a thorough physical examination is vital to the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.

Evaluation

After a thorough history and physical, the evaluation needs to be complemented with laboratory analysis. The blood work should include hemoglobin A1C to screen for insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus type 2. A lipid panel should also be drawn to assess for abnormally elevated triglyceride level, low HDL level, and elevated low-density lipoprotein level. The initial evaluation should also include a basic metabolic panel to evaluate for renal dysfunction and examine glucose level. Further studies such as C-reactive protein, liver panel, thyroid study, and uric acid can be drawn to investigate the existence of further and support the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. Imaging studies can be ordered when appropriate. For instance, anyone suspected to have atherosclerotic coronary artery disease should have an electrocardiogram to evaluate for signs of cardiac ischemia, infarct, arrhythmias,  as well as evaluate for hypertension with structural heart disease. If warranted, patients should be evaluated further with cardiac stress testing including electrocardiogram stress test, stress echocardiography, stress single-photon emission computed tomography or myocardial perfusion imaging.[11][12]

Treatment / Management

Management should be targeted at treating the conditions contributing to metabolic syndrome and possibly reverting the risk factors. Thus, modifiable factors such as diet and exercise should be emphasized in patients with metabolic syndrome.[13][14][15]

As per the most recent Joint National Committee (JNC) guidelines, the target blood pressure in general population should be 140/90 mmHg, and in patients with diabetes mellitus, the goal is less than 130/80 mmHg. The most recent Joint National Committee-8 guidelines have further specified that in patients aged 60 or older the goal should less than 150/90 mmHg.

Patients with hypertriglyceridemia defined as triglycerides more than 150 mg/dL should be evaluated and further workup should include checking full lipid analysis, thyroid stimulating hormone level, urinalysis, and liver function tests. After a comprehensive analysis, patients should first be counseled for lifestyle changes including abstinence from smoking, weight loss, and diet and exercise modification. Physicians will start treating hypertriglyceridemia once the level is above 500 mg/dL, and usually, patients have mixed dyslipidemia disorder by that point. Patients are usually on a moderate to high-intensity statin therapy first; however, fibrates, niacin, and omega acids are also available for treating hypertriglyceridemia. Elevated LDL should also be aggressively managed in these patients especially if the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk score if more than 7.5%, which establishes a patient’s 10-year ASCVD risk. These patients should be placed on a high-intensity statin therapy with a goal of dropping the LDL by 50%.

Pearls and Other Issues

Sleep health and hygiene should also be discussed with patients who have metabolic syndrome because sleep apnea and sleep deprivation can lead to the development of metabolic syndrome. Studies have shown that in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea, 3 months of continuous positive airway pressure can reduce blood pressure and potentially reverse some metabolic syndrome abnormalities.

To recognize the development of metabolic syndrome is crucial to treatment, prevention, and reversal of the disease process. Through history and physical exam, patient education, and workup of the contributing factors appropriately, physicians can not only treat the metabolic syndrome but also potentially alter the trajectory of disease development.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

The management of metabolic syndrome is best done with an interprofessional team that includes a dietitian, physical therapist, pharmacist, cardiologist, internist, neurologist, bariatric surgeon, nurse practitioner, an endocrinologist, and a social worker. The key to this disorder is the prevention and education of the patient. The patient must be told of the importance of changes in lifestyle and weight loss. The dietitian should educate the patient on a Mediterranean-style diet and the importance of exercise. The patient should be urged to stop smoking and abstaining from alcohol. The pharmacist must ensure that the patient is compliant with the medications. Probably the most important intervention is an exercise because it can lower body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose at the same time. Finally, patients with metabolic syndrome should be educated on good sleep hygiene. [16][17](Level V)

Outcomes

Patients with metabolic complications can develop a wide range of complications including heart disease, aortic stenosis, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and even thromboembolic disease. Today evidence seems to indicate that the risk of an ischemic stroke is much higher in patients with metabolic syndrome than previously thought. In addition, other problems associated with metabolic syndrome include a risk for malignancies of the kidney, gallbladder, colon and even the prostate gland. Further, the metabolic syndrome may also increase the risk of eclampsia and affect cognitive performance. Finally, patients with metabolic syndrome also face higher medical bills, are more likely to be poor and may find access to good quality healthcare difficult. [18][19](Level V)


Interested in Participating?

We are looking for contributors to author, edit, and peer review our vast library of review articles and multiple choice questions. In as little as 2-3 hours you can make a significant contribution to your specialty. In return for a small amount of your time, you will receive free access to all content and you will be published as an author or editor in eBooks, apps, online CME/CE activities, and an online Learning Management System for students, teachers, and program directors that allows access to review materials in over 500 specialties.

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor

This is an academic project designed to provide inexpensive peer-reviewed Apps, eBooks, and very soon an online CME/CE system to help students identify weaknesses and improve knowledge. We would like you to consider being an author or editor. Please click here to learn more. Thank you for you for your interest, the StatPearls Publishing Editorial Team.

Metabolic Syndrome - Questions

Take a quiz of the questions on this article.

Take Quiz
A 55-year-old obese Hispanic female presents with fatigue, polyuria, polyphagia, and polydipsia. She has no significant past medical history but her family history is positive for diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease. Her vital signs are normal. Her BMI is 37 kg/m2. Exam is normal except for morbid obesity. Laboratory results show normal complete blood count, electrolytes, renal function, and liver function. Fasting blood sugar is 135 mg/dL. Is the patient diabetic?



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
Select the patient with metabolic syndrome.



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
Which of the following is NOT a component of metabolic syndrome?



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
What blood test will not help when looking for the metabolic syndrome?



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
Which of the following is a diagnostic criterion for the metabolic syndrome?



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
What should the HDL level be to meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome in a female?



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
What are the typical levels of triglycerides in patients with the metabolic syndrome?



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
What percentage of adults in the United States have metabolic syndrome?



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
What urologic complication is significantly increased (30% higher) in patients with metabolic syndrome?



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up
On the medical floor, a nurse is caring for a patient who has been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Which of the following are associated with this syndrome? Select all that apply.



Click Your Answer Below


Would you like to access teaching points and more information on this topic?

Improve Content - Become an Author or Editor and get free access to the entire database, free eBooks, as well as free CME/CE as it becomes available. If interested, please click on "Sign Up" to register.

Purchase- Want immediate access to questions, answers, and teaching points? They can be purchased above at Apps and eBooks.


Sign Up

Metabolic Syndrome - References

References

van der Pal KC,Koopman ADM,Lakerveld J,van der Heijden AA,Elders PJ,Beulens JW,Rutters F, The association between multiple sleep-related characteristics and the metabolic syndrome in the general population: the New Hoorn study. Sleep medicine. 2018 Aug 22     [PubMed]
Burrage E,Marshall KL,Santanam N,Chantler PD, Cerebrovascular dysfunction with stress and depression. Brain circulation. 2018 Apr-Jun     [PubMed]
Kim JY,Yi ES, Analysis of the relationship between physical activity and metabolic syndrome risk factors in adults with intellectual disabilities. Journal of exercise rehabilitation. 2018 Aug     [PubMed]
White LS,Van den Bogaerde J,Kamm M, The gut microbiota: cause and cure of gut diseases. The Medical journal of Australia. 2018 Sep 1     [PubMed]
Catharina AS,Modolo R,Ritter AMV,Sabbatini AR,Lopes HF,Moreno Junior H,Faria AP, Metabolic Syndrome-Related Features in Controlled and Resistant Hypertensive Subjects. Arquivos brasileiros de cardiologia. 2018 Jun     [PubMed]
Cozma A,Sitar-Taut A,Orăşan O,Leucuta D,Alexescu T,Stan A,Negrean V,Sampelean D,Pop D,Zdrenghea D,Vulturar R,Fodor A, Determining Factors of Arterial Stiffness in Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome and related disorders. 2018 Sep 5     [PubMed]
Fietze I,Laharnar N,Obst A,Ewert R,Felix SB,Garcia C,Gläser S,Glos M,Schmidt CO,Stubbe B,Völzke H,Zimmermann S,Penzel T, Prevalence and association analysis of obstructive sleep apnea with gender and age differences - Results of SHIP-Trend. Journal of sleep research. 2018 Oct 1     [PubMed]
Hooijschuur MCE,Ghossein-Doha C,Kroon AA,de Leeuw PW,Zandbergen AAM,van Kuijk SMJ,Spaanderman MEA, Metabolic Syndrome and Preeclampsia. Ultrasound in obstetrics     [PubMed]
He Y,Wu W,Wu S,Zheng HM,Li P,Sheng HF,Chen MX,Chen ZH,Ji GY,Zheng ZD,Mujagond P,Chen XJ,Rong ZH,Chen P,Lyu LY,Wang X,Xu JB,Wu CB,Yu N,Xu YJ,Yin J,Raes J,Ma WJ,Zhou HW, Linking gut microbiota, metabolic syndrome and economic status based on a population-level analysis. Microbiome. 2018 Sep 24     [PubMed]
Cӑtoi AF,Pârvu AE,Andreicuț AD,Mironiuc A,Crӑciun A,Cӑtoi C,Pop ID, Metabolically Healthy versus Unhealthy Morbidly Obese: Chronic Inflammation, Nitro-Oxidative Stress, and Insulin Resistance. Nutrients. 2018 Sep 1     [PubMed]
Klimova B,Kuca K,Maresova P, Global View on Alzheimer's Disease and Diabetes Mellitus: Threats, Risks and Treatment. Current Alzheimer research. 2018 Sep 25     [PubMed]
Chiarelli F,Mohn A, Early diagnosis of metabolic syndrome in children. The Lancet. Child     [PubMed]
Chambers JH,Zerofsky M,Lustig RH,Rosenthal P,Perito ER, Diet and Exercise in Pediatric Liver Transplant Recipients: Behaviors and Association with Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. 2018 Sep 18     [PubMed]
Kelley E,Imboden MT,Harber MP,Finch H,Kaminsky LA,Whaley MH, Cardiorespiratory Fitness Is Inversely Associated With Clustering of Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors: The Ball State Adult Fitness Program Longitudinal Lifestyle Study. Mayo Clinic proceedings. Innovations, quality     [PubMed]
Hohenester S,Christiansen S,Nagel J,Wimmer R,Artmann R,Denk G,Bischoff M,Bischoff G,Rust C, Lifestyle intervention for morbid obesity: effects on liver steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis. American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology. 2018 Sep 1     [PubMed]
Carson C,Lawson HA, The Epigenetics of Metabolic Syndrome. Physiological genomics. 2018 Sep 21     [PubMed]
Albert Pérez E,Mateu Olivares V,Martínez-Espinosa RM,Molina Vila MD,Reig García-Galbis M, New Insights about How to Make an Intervention in Children and Adolescents with Metabolic Syndrome: Diet, Exercise vs. Changes in Body Composition. A Systematic Review of RCT. Nutrients. 2018 Jul 6     [PubMed]
Cichos KH,Churchill JL,Phillips SG,Watson SL,McGwin G Jr,Ghanem ES,Ponce BA, Metabolic syndrome and hip fracture: Epidemiology and perioperative outcomes. Injury. 2018 Sep 8     [PubMed]
Chen YY,Fang WH,Wang CC,Kao TW,Chang YW,Yang HF,Wu CJ,Sun YS,Chen WL, Association of Percentage Body Fat and Metabolic Health in Offspring of Patients with Cardiovascular Diseases. Scientific reports. 2018 Sep 14     [PubMed]

Disclaimer

The intent of StatPearls is to provide practice questions and explanations to assist you in identifying and resolving knowledge deficits. These questions and explanations are not intended to be a source of the knowledge base of all of medicine, nor is it intended to be a board or certification review of Family Medicine. The authors or editors do not warrant the information is complete or accurate. The reader is encouraged to verify each answer and explanation in several references. All drug indications and dosages should be verified before administration.

StatPearls offers the most comprehensive database of free multiple-choice questions with explanations and short review chapters ever developed. This system helps physicians, medical students, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and allied health professionals identify education deficits and learn new concepts. StatPearls is not a board or certification review system for Family Medicine, it is a learning system that you can use to help improve your knowledge base of medicine for life-long learning. StatPearls will help you identify your weaknesses so that when you are ready to study for a board or certification exam in Family Medicine, you will already be prepared.

Our content is updated continuously through a multi-step peer review process that will help you be prepared and review for a thorough knowledge of Family Medicine. When it is time for the Family Medicine board and certification exam, you will already be ready. Besides online study quizzes, we also publish our peer-reviewed content in eBooks and mobile Apps. We also offer inexpensive CME/CE, so our content can be used to attain education credits while you study Family Medicine.