Insulin resistance

The term Insulin Resistance probably sounds familiar to you, perhaps you’ve heard mention of it under one of its other names such as Syndrome X. It was noticed that obesity, high blood pressure and abnormalities in lipids (blood fats) and glucose metablolism were found together commonly enough to suggest they are somehow related and became known as Insulin Resistance Syndrome.

A common marker for the syndrome is high levels of insulin in the blood. Because the cells in the body are somehow resistant to the insulin the body produces, the pancreas is stimulated to produce still more to try and combat this resistance.

Insulin Resistance is thought to put you at higher risk of type II diabetes (non-insulin dependant) which occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to keep up the high rate of insulin secretion.

There is a great deal of controversy over cause and effect with regards to this syndrome. Overweight is most likely to be at the root of the problem. One theory is that excess fat in the abdomen reduces the cells ability to absorb insulin by coating them with fat. The raised insulin in the blood raises the level of triglycerides and lowers the levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) in the blood, raising the overall level of ‘bad’ cholesterol and increasing the risk of artherosclerosis. The raised insulin also tends to increase the absorption of sodium from the kidneys, increasing the blood volume and producing the hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Risk factors for Insulin resistance are similar to those for Type II diabetes, being overweight, having a sibling or parent with type II diabetes or being a woman who had diabetes during a pregnancy. So if you suspect you are at risk of Insulin Resistance or Type II diabetes, the recommendations are the same. Reduce your intake of sugar in your diet, up your activity level, reduce your weight, stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake etc. All the same advice you would expect if you were at risk of diabetes or to reduce your risk of heart disease. Since all the seperate parts of Insulin Resitance and, indeed, Type II Diabetes, put you at a higher risk of artherosclerosis and heart disease, that makes sense. A large number of women who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome also have insulin resistance.

Since there is some evidence that Insulin Resistance Syndrome may be responsible for causing heart disease in 25% of men and 60% of women who have it today, it is worth taking steps to reverse its effects if you suspect you might be Insulin Resistant, in some cases medication can even be used. Discuss your options with your GP.

sources American Diabetes Association Website www. diabetes. org www. actos. com

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