This term describes a serious cluster of side effects associated with the atypical antipsychotics, clozapine and olanzapine in particular. The metabolic syndrome involves substantial weight gain, mostly in the form of central fat or “belly fat,” accompanied by a rise in total cholesterol and triglycerides and a decrease in the “good” cholesterol, HDL.
While it’s not fully understood what mechanisms in the body are causing this, there is a decrease in the body’s ability to handle starch and sugars, through abnormalities in the functioning of insulin, which can result in the onset of diabetes. The negative health consequences of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia, can substantially decrease life expectancy. People on atypical medications need to be monitored for the onset of these symptoms.
Increasingly, practitioners should regularly check the following in order to keep tabs on any emerging metabolic syndrome symptoms:
• Weight (basal mass index or BMI)
• Fasting blood glucose
• Lipid profiles, including cholesterol and triglycerides