Identification and Management of Metabolic Syndrome: The Role of the APN

Douglas H. Sutton, EdD, MSN; Deborah A. Raines, PhD


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2007;7(2) 

In This Article


Metabolic syndrome now affects approximately 55 million people in the United States.[1] However, metabolic syndrome is not limited to the United States, and now has a global prevalence of approximately 35%.[2] The syndrome is an assemblage of interrelated abnormalities:

  • Central obesity;

  • Hypertension;

  • Dyslipidemia;

  • Insulin resistance; and

  • Elevated fibrinogen levels and a prothrombotic state.

All of these factors increase the patients' risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Given the insidious onset of metabolic syndrome, early identification and intervention are critical for reducing the rising mortality rates associated with metabolic syndrome. The advanced practice nurse (APN) plays a critical role in:

  • Identifying risk factors;

  • Developing management strategies; and

  • Educating patients to avoid the onset or worsening of individual risk factors.

Together, these steps taken by the APN help reduce long-term morbidity and mortality associated with this global health calamity. Unfortunately, awareness of this crisis within the midlevel provider community is lacking. One study reported that less than 30% of the clinicians surveyed could name more than 3 risk factors contributing to the development of coronary artery disease.[3] The purpose of this article is to inform the APN of the importance and complexity of the syndrome as a burgeoning health problem facing industrialized societies.


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