Objective: In recent years, several major organizations have endorsed the concept of the metabolic syndrome and developed working definitions for it. How well these definitions predict the risk for adverse events in people with the metabolic syndrome is only now being learned. The purpose of this study was to summarize the estimates of relative risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes reported from prospective studies in samples from the general population using definitions of the metabolic syndrome developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) and World Health Organization (WHO).
Research design and methods: The author reviewed prospective studies from July 1998 through August 2004.
Results: For studies that used the exact NCEP definition of the metabolic syndrome, random-effects estimates of combined relative risk were 1.27 (95% CI 0.90-1.78) for all-cause mortality, 1.65 (1.38-1.99) for cardiovascular disease, and 2.99 (1.96-4.57) for diabetes. For studies that used the most exact WHO definition of the metabolic syndrome, the fixed-effects estimates of relative risk were 1.37 (1.09-1.74) for all-cause mortality and 1.93 (1.39-2.67) for cardiovascular disease; the fixed-effects estimate was 2.60 (1.55-4.38) for coronary heart disease.
Conclusions: These estimates suggest that the population-attributable fraction for the metabolic syndrome, as it is currently conceived, is approximately 6-7% for all-cause mortality, 12-17% for cardiovascular disease, and 30-52% for diabetes. Further research is needed to establish the use of the metabolic syndrome in predicting risk for death, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in various population subgroups.