Harvard Men's Health Watch

The metabolic syndrome: Therapy

The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of five closely related cardiovascular risk factors. Each is dangerous in its own right, but when they occur together, the overall risk is greater than the sum of its parts.

Table 1 shows the metabolic syndrome's components. The presence of any three abnormalities is sufficient to establish the diagnosis, but the hazards are even greater when four or five abnormalities are present.

Table 1: The metabolic syndrome

Men who have three of these abnormalities have the syndrome:

  1. Abdominal obesity (waist circumference 40 inches or more)*

  2. Fasting triglyceride levels of 150 mg/dL or higher

  3. HDL cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dL**

  4. Blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or higher

  5. Fasting blood sugar of 110 mg/dL or higher

*35-inch waist for women**HDL below 50 for women

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