Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is one contributing factor to cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Although there have been several reports showing MetS to be a risk factor for CVD, there are limited data available on which of the diagnostic criteria for MetS carries the greatest risk for CVD in the elderly population. This study thus aimed to evaluate these criteria in terms of risk of CVD in this population. This was a retrospective cohort study conducted at three referral hospitals in Thailand. The study period was between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2016. Eligible patients were identified whether presence of MetS or not at the beginning of study and followed until the end of study. The primary outcome of study was presence of CVD. Predictors for CVD were analyzed by Cox proportional-hazards regression. During the study period, there were 1080 patients who met the study criteria, 253 (23.42%) of whom had CVD. There were five factors significantly associated with CVD occurrence including age, smoking, SBP, FPG, and HDL-c. The two factors with the highest adjusted hazard ratio were FPG and SBP at 2.92 and 2.34, respectively. The three MetS criteria including SBP, FPG, and HDL-c may be predictors for cardiovascular diseases in elderly populations. Physician may need to focus on these particular factors of MetS in terms of CVD prevention in elderly patients. © 2021 The Authors.