Metabolic syndrome

"People with diseases characterized by insulin resistance, such as diabetes and hyperinsulinemia, are more likely to have metabolic syndrome".


What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is also called Reaven's syndrome, insulin resistance syndrome, or metabolic syndrome X.

Researchers believe that metabolic syndrome is a genetic disease, meaning that it is passed on in the genes of one family, from one generation to the next.

However, it is not completely understood why metabolic syndrome occurs, but it is known that people who suffer from it have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or coronary artery disease.

What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?

Patients with metabolic syndrome do not feel any symptoms. But there are signs that may indicate to doctors a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.

Doctors will look for a combination of the following factors:

  • Central obesity, that is to say, an excess of fat in the abdominal area.
  • Difficulty in digesting a type of sugar called "glucose" (glucose intolerance) Patients with metabolic syndrome usually have hyperinsulinemia or type 2 diabetes.
  • High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad cholesterol") and triglycerides in the blood.
  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good cholesterol") in the blood.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).

What diseases does the patient have?

  • Central obesity (excess fat in the abdominal area).
  • Diabetes type 2.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Hyperlipemias.

Do you have these diseases?

You may have a metabolic syndrome

What are the causes of metabolic syndrome?

Hyperinsulinemia is a disease in which large amounts of insulin are pumped into the bloodstream.

Normally, the pancreas releases insulin when you eat certain foods. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body's cells accept the sugar (glucose) that gives them energy.

If the cells become resistant to insulin, more insulin is needed to get the glucose into the cells. Therefore, the body produces more insulin, which is pumped into the bloodstream. When there is a lot of insulin in the bloodstream, the risk of a heart attack is increased, because the insulin:

  • Raises triglyceride levels.
  • Lowers levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL or "good cholesterol").
  • Raises levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or "bad cholesterol").
  • Makes it harder for the body to remove fats from the blood after eating.
  • It raises blood pressure.
  • Increases the clotting ability of the blood.

What are the risk factors for metabolic syndrome?

People with metabolic syndrome have a combination of the following risk factors:

  • Central obesity, that is, an excess of fat in the abdominal area.
  • High blood pressure of 130/85 mm.Hg. (millimeters of mercury) or higher. A normal blood pressure measurement is 120 mmHg or less for systolic pressure (the maximum) and 80 mmHg or less for diastolic pressure (the minimum).
  • Elevation of fasting blood glucose level equal to or greater than 150 mg/dl.
  • Elevated triglyceride levels: more than 150 mg/dl. (milligrams per deciliter). Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood.
  • Low levels of HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), defined as less than 40 mg/dl. in men and less than 50 mg/dl. in women

How is metabolic syndrome treated?

Treatment of metabolic syndrome consists of treating the other underlying diseases. Therefore, if the patient has diabetes, hyperinsulinemia, elevated cholesterol levels or high blood pressure, he or she should receive appropriate treatment.

Exercise and weight loss are also useful measures to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

In some cases, medication can be given to treat metabolic syndrome, but your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and reducing your consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Where do we treat it?


The Department of Internal Medicine
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Its integrative vision and polyvalence allow us to provide the best medical assistance to multipathological and multisymptomatic patients, who present a difficult diagnosis or who suffer from prevalent diseases of a hospital nature.

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clínica?

  • State-of-the-art diagnostic technology.
  • Quick diagnosis to start the most appropriate treatment early.
  • Teamwork with the rest of the professionals in the Clinic.

Our team of professionals

Specialists with experience in the treatment of metabolic syndrome