Metabolic syndrome includes several symptoms that have different causes.

Insulin resistance

Metabolic syndrome is linked to your body's metabolism, possibly to a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps control the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.

Normally, your digestive system breaks down the foods you eat into sugar (glucose). Your blood carries the glucose to your body's tissues, where the cells use it as fuel. Glucose enters your cells with the help of insulin. In people with insulin resistance, cells don't respond normally to insulin, and glucose can't enter the cells as easily. As a result, glucose levels in your blood rise despite your body's attempt to control the glucose by churning out more and more insulin. The result is higher than normal levels of insulin in your blood. This can eventually lead to diabetes when your body is unable to make enough insulin to keep the blood glucose within the normal range.

Even if your levels aren't high enough to be considered diabetes, an elevated glucose level can still be harmful. In fact, some doctors refer to this condition as "prediabetes." Increased insulin resistance raises your triglyceride level and other blood fat levels. It also interferes with how your kidneys work, leading to higher blood pressure. These combined effects of insulin resistance put you at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other conditions.

Combination of factors

Insulin resistance probably involves a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Some people may be genetically prone to insulin resistance. But being overweight and inactive are major contributors.

Apr. 05, 2013