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J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2012;00:00–00. ©2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) is high in the United States and is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The authors examined whether the prevalence of the MetS and its components differs across age groups. Data were analyzed from 4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between the years 1999 and 2006. Prevalence of MetS as defined by the Third Report of the Adult Treatment Panel criteria and prevalence of associated cardiac risk factors were determined in 41,474 participants aged 18 years and older without a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). All estimates were weighted. Prevalence of MetS among asymptomatic adults without CVD was 20.5% and remained stable for the total population during survey periods. Prevalence of MetS increased with age: 6.6% in young adults (age 18–29 years) and 34.6% in older adults (70 and older). Components of MetS differed between young and old adults. Young adults had lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, less glucose intolerance, and less hypertension. This study provides an estimate of MetS prevalence in asymptomatic adults in the United States during an 8-year period revealing that MetS affects a large number of Americans. Components of MetS differ between young and old adults and may have important implications in their clinical management.