Metabolic syndrome has become an important public health problem and has reached epidemic proportions globally. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of metabolic abnormalities in an individual, with insulin resistance as the main characteristic. The major adverse consequence of metabolic syndrome is cardiovascular disease, which is often already present without clinical signs or symptoms. In this early stage of disease, interventions (eg, lifestyle intervention, medication) can be used to prevent further cardiovascular deterioration or even to reverse cardiovascular disease. Therefore, risk stratification on an individual basis and early detection of cardiovascular disease are essential. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is a powerful tool for demonstrating cardiovascular risk factors in metabolic syndrome, such as increased fat depots and arterial stiffening. Furthermore, MR imaging is an established modality for the assessment of myocardial function. This review provides a summary of the current MR applications in metabolic syndrome and discusses how these MR techniques can be used to identify subclinical cardiovascular damage.
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