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The metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance syndrome, syndrome X) is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes; it consists of a constellation of metabolic abnormalities that includes central obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia, high triglycerides, and low HDL. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome varies among ethnic groups; it increases with age, degree of obesity, and propensity to type 2 diabetes.


Overweight/obesity (especially central adiposity), sedentary lifestyle, increasing age, and lipodystrophy are all risk factors for the metabolic syndrome. The exact cause is not known and may be multifactorial. Insulin resistance is central to the development of the metabolic syndrome. Increased intracellular fatty acid metabolites contribute to insulin resistance by impairing insulin-signaling pathways and accumulating as triglycerides in skeletal and cardiac muscle, while stimulating hepatic glucose and triglyceride production. Excess adipose tissue leads to increased production of proinflammatory cytokines.


There are no specific symptoms of the metabolic syndrome. The major features include central obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL cholesterol, hyperglycemia, and hypertension (Table 120-1). Associated conditions include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, hyperuricemia/gout, polycystic ovary syndrome, and obstructive sleep apnea.

TABLE 120-1NCEP:ATPIIIa 2001 and Harmonizing Definition Criteria for the Metabolic Syndrome

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