Published on Oct 10, 2020
Authored by Pfizer Medical Team
Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is a cluster of risk factors that dramatically increases an individual’s risk of heart disease and diabetes.1 Any one of these factors can increase the risk of health problems; however, when these conditions occur together, the risk is significantly higher.2 Early diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can lead to interventions to delay or prevent heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.2
Excess weight around the abdomen is linked to insulin resistance. Insulin acts as a key for the body's cells to be fed sugar (or glucose) for energy. When a person has insulin resistance, the cells stop responding normally to insulin—leading to consistently high blood sugar and a snowball effect on cholesterol with damage to blood vessels. Your doctor can help identify these not-so-obvious signs through a blood test.
A person must have at least three of the following risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome:2
Anyone can develop metabolic syndrome, including children and teenagers2. However, some people are at increased risk. You may have a higher-than-average risk if you have:
None of these factors guarantees a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. A person may have one or even all these risk factors and not develop metabolic syndrome, especially if they take steps to improve their overall health.
Metabolic syndrome can lead to serious, even fatal, complications, including:
Because the health effects of metabolic syndrome can be serious, it’s best to be proactive, rather than wait for signs of poor health. Losing weight—even as little as 5% of your body weight—can decrease your risk of complications.2 Increasing physical activity can also help. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as walking, each day.2 If you smoke or vape, quit, or cut back; your healthcare provider can provide assistance and support.2
If you have risk factors and haven't had a health check in the last 12 months, schedule one with your doctor today.