By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We have talked about metabolic syndrome on many occasions and you may have discussed it with your doctor. The first few times we discussed it we were careful to define it, but now metabolic syndrome has been around so long that it is assumed that everyone knows what it is – and for those in medical circles just about everyone does.

The problem is that the most important people – you, the patients – may not know what metabolic syndrome is or only understand it vaguely and you are the people who need to know.

So, here is the definition: metabolic syndrome is a cluster of five factors. They include a large waist, low hdl or good cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and elevated triglycerides.

By definition if you have metabolic syndrome you are at higher risk for diabetes and heart disease and you need to make lifestyle changes. It is a big warning sign.