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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions. Identifying and treating these underlying conditions that make up metabolic syndrome can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

When you have a physical exam, your doctor can measure your waist circumference.

All adults should have their blood pressure checked during physical exams. If blood pressure is under 120/80 mm Hg, it can be rechecked in two years. For people with systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of 80-90 mm Hg, rechecks are recommended every year.

A fasting lipid panel analyzes total cholesterol, as well as LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels in the blood. Every adult 20 years and older should be tested. If your test results show a high risk for coronary heart disease, it is recommented that you get it rechecked within one year.

In people with less or no risk, retesting may only need to be done every 2-5 years.

Glucose tests check your blood sugar levels to make sure they are within normal range. Glucose tests are used for screening and diagnosing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends screening in adults 45 years and older, every three years as long as the test result is within normal range.

People who are overweight or obese should be tested regardless of age if one or more of the following factors are present:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Family history
  • African American, Native American, Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander ethnicity
  • History of gestational diabetes or birth of baby weighing over 9 pounds
  • Blood pressure at or above 140/90 mm Hg
  • HDL cholesterol under 35 mg/dL or triglycerides over 250 mg/dL
  • Women with polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Previous glucose testing indicating higher than normal results
  • History of cardiovascular disease

People with prediabetes should be tested every year.


American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes 2013. Diabetes Care. 2013;36 Suppl 1:S11-S66.

Diabetes mellitus type 2 screening. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 6, 2013. Accessed May 10, 2013.

Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated March 22, 2013. Accessed May 10, 2013.

NCEP ATP III guidelines. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Accessed May 10, 2013.

Obesity in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 8, 2013. Accessed May 10, 2013.

Rosenzweig JL, Ferrannini E, Grundy SM, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in patients at metabolic risk: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008; 93:3671-3689

Steinberger J, Daniels SR, Eckel RH, et al. AHA scientifc statement: progress and challenges in metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents. Circulation 2009; 119:628-647.

Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III): Executive Summary. National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol/atp3xsum.pdf. Accessed May 10, 2013.

US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for high blood pressure: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147(11):783-786.

Last reviewed June 2013 by Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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