Insulin Resistance and the Metabolic Syndrome

  • Mary Ann BanerjiEmail author
  • Milay Luis LamEmail author
  • Rochelle Chaiken
Living reference work entry

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In 1988 Gerald Reaven’s Banting Lecture popularized the metabolic syndrome and proposed that insulin resistance was the underlying etiology of a set of abnormalities including glucose intolerance, hypertension, and a distinct lipid profile of high triglyceride and low HDL cholesterol level with resultant increased cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This physiological concept evolved into an epidemiological one used to predict cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Following multiple definitions by self-appointed organizations, in 2009 an international group of experts proposed a “harmonized” definition of the metabolic syndrome. This definition included a population-specific measure of waist circumference, elevated plasma triglyceride, low plasma HDL cholesterol, hypertension, and elevated blood glucose. The metabolic syndrome has been tested in numerous large, longitudinal population studies to determine its ability to predict cardiovascular disease above and beyond its individual components.

The evidence is mixed and suggests that metabolic syndrome does not uniquely predict incident CV disease or mortality over and above its components. Despite positive reports, overall, the metabolic syndrome is a rather poor predictor of CV disease in type 2 diabetes.

The metabolic syndrome is likely to be not more than the sum of its parts after adjusting for standard CV risk factors. Although it is a good predictor of diabetes, it is not as good as the fasting plasma glucose.


Insulin resistance Metabolic syndrome Healthy/unhealthy obesity Cardiovascular disease Mortality and diabetes Glucose intolerance Plasma triglyceride Plasma HDL cholesterol body composition Visceral fat 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SUNY Downstate Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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