Metabolic Syndrome

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome and How Is It Diagnosed?

Metabolic syndrome needs to be assessed by a medical professional through physical examination and laboratory tests in order to make the diagnosis. Since most of the metabolic syndrome risk factors don’t have symptoms, the only outward sign is an increasing waistline. Elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol don’t always exhibit symptoms.

One must have three of the five following risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome:

  • A large waistline
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar (insulin resistance)
  • A low HDL cholesterol level (the good cholesterol)
  • A high Triglyceride level (a type of fat in the blood)

Tests that may be done to diagnose metabolic syndrome are:

  • Waist measurement – Using a tape measure, the waist will be measured to determine risk factor. A large waistline indicates high risk.
  • Blood pressure measurement – Blood pressure is measured by wrapping a blood pressure cuff snugly around the arm and using a stethoscope to detect the sound of the pulse in the large artery of the inside of the arm.
  • Blood glucose test (fasting or normal) – Using a needle, a sample of blood is removed from the arm and then tested to measure the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. A diagnosis of diabetes is made when the fasting glucose level is high (126 mg/dL or higher).
  • HDL cholesterol level – Using a needle, a sample of blood is collected from a vein in the arm and then tested in a lab for the amount of high density lipoprotein (HDL) in the blood (good cholesterol).
  • LDL cholesterol level – Using a needle, a sample of blood is collected from a vein in the arm and then tested in a lab for the amount of low density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood (bad cholesterol).
  • Total cholesterol level – Using a needle, a sample of blood is collected from a vein in the arm and then tested in a lab for the amount of all the cholesterol in the blood. It is important to note that the body needs a small amount of cholesterol to work properly; however, too much cholesterol can block the arteries and cause a heart attack.

Holt, MD, Stephen. Combat Syndrome X, Y and Z…Wellness Publishing, 2002

Holt, MD, Stephen. "Metabolic Syndrome, Syndrome X: Syndrome X, Y, Z…?" Townsend Letter May 2007: 91-103. Print.

Huffington Post "Is Your Body Burning Up With Hidden Inflammation?" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-body-burning-up-w_b_269717.html Retrieved September 30, 2011

Mayo Clinic "Metabolic Syndrome" http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/metabolic%20syndrome/DS00522  Retrieved September 30, 2011

NutriWatch "Functional Foods, Their Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion" http://www.nutriwatch.org/04Foods/ff.html Retrieved September 30, 2011

PubMed.gov "Metabolic Syndrome" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004546/  Retrieved September 30, 2011

US Department of Health and Human Services – National Institutes of Health "Metabolic Syndrome" http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ms/trials.html Retrieved September 30, 2011