Context: The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a multiplex risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The syndrome develops through interplay of obesity and metabolic susceptibility.
Objective: This article addresses whether the MetS construct has clinical utility. POSITION: The National Cholesterol Education Program and other organizations have proposed that the MetS can be recognized clinically by a clustering of simple clinical measures including waist circumferences, blood pressure, triglycerides, high-density lipoproteins, and glucose. People with this clustering have most or all of the components of the MetS. Identifying the MetS has several advantages. It discovers persons who are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. A diagnosis focuses more clinical attention on the underlying causes, notably obesity and other lifestyle factors; it thereby reinforces the utility of lifestyle changes in clinical practice. A diagnosis further informs physicians on choice and intensity of drug therapy for elevated cholesterol, aspirin prophylaxis, and blood pressure and glucose control. The introduction of the MetS has led to a large number of epidemiological, metabolic, and genetic studies that have heightened our understanding of the condition's prevalence and pathogenesis. It has been a stimulus to the development of new drugs or drug combinations that will modify multiple risk factors simultaneously.
Conclusions: This author holds that the MetS counts as a multiplex cardiovascular risk factor that is clinically useful and will lead to advances in diagnosis and treatment of an important cause of cardiovascular disease.