An association between certain metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease has been known since the 1940s. In the 1980s this association became more clearly defined and the term metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X or the dysmetabolic syndrome) was coined to designate a cluster of metabolic risk factors that come together in a single individual. In more current times, the term metabolic syndrome is found throughout medical literature and in the lay press as well. There are slight differences in the criteria of diagnosis - depending on which authority is quoted. Regardless, the concept of a clustering of risks factors leading to cardiovascular disease is well accepted.
The main features of metabolic syndrome include insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), cholesterol abnormalities, and an increased risk for clotting. Patients are most often overweight or obese.
Insulin resistance refers to the diminished ability of cells to respond to the action of insulin in promoting the transport of the sugar glucose, from blood into muscles and other tissues. Because of the central role that insulin resistance plays in the metabolic syndrome, a separate article is devoted to insulin resistance.
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