The condition is diagnosed by identifying a set number of defined parameters. Being a collection of metabolic abnormalities, these are being continually revised and updated on both sides of the Atlantic. There is now general agreement that for a diagnosis to be made, 3 out of the following 5 metabolic parameters should be met:

  • Raised waist circumference (above 94 cm in men and 80 cm in women – NB cut off points higher in America!)
  • Raised fasting glucose
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Raised triglycerides
  • Low ‘good’ HDL cholesterol

The reason why these important metabolic problems are pooled together as one syndrome is in order to identify subjects at high risk of cardiovascular disease and hopefully do something about it.

An endpoint such as a heart attack or stroke can be prevented given enough time to reverse the abnormalities either through lifestyle changes or drug treatment. Both approaches have been proven to work.