Do you know how insulin resistance contribute to heart and blood vessel diseases?

Insulin influences how blood vessels open to allow blood to flow freely (vasodilation). When insulin resistance occurs, this benefit of insulin on blood vessels reduces and does not open freely again to allow blood to flow freely (vasoconstriction). This obstruction leads to damage to blood vessels. How bad is insulin resistance to your health?

  • Insulin resistance causes blood cells to gum together and not flow freely (prothrombotic effect)
  • Excess sugar in the blood increases the thickness of blood and also damages the blood vessels
  • Free fatty acids and bad cholesterol also causes the blood vessels not to open very well and allow blood to flow freely (vasoconstriction)
  • When the blood vessels keep constricting (closing up) and are not opening well to allow blood flow freely, it leads to hypertension. However, there are other ways that metabolic syndrome or fat in the tummy (visceral fat) causes hypertension which will be discussed later.
  • When insulin resistance continues for a long time, the body cells may completely lose their ability to recognize the signal from insulin to absorb glucose from the blood into the cells or damages the beta cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. This makes it difficult for the body cells to absorb glucose from the blood. It causes the glucose to accumulate in the blood and keeps growing to a level that is abnormal for the body to cope (fasting blood sugar of more than or equal to 7mmol/l or random blood sugar that is equal to or greater than 11 mmol/l). This is called type 2 diabetes.

Sources of Information

  1. Welty FK, Alfaddagh A, Elajami TK. Targeting inflammation in metabolic syndrome. Transl Res. 2016;167(1):257-280. doi:10.1016/j.trsl.2015.06.017
  2. Boden G, Shulman GI. Free fatty acids in obesity and type 2 diabetes: defining their role in the development of insulin resistance and beta-cell dysfunction. Eur J Clin Invest 2002; 32(Suppl. 3): 14–23
  3. Donath MY, Shoelson SE. Type 2 diabetes as an inflammatory disease. Nature reviews Immunology. 2011;11:98–107
  4. Juhan-Vague I, Alessi MC, Mavri A, et al. Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance, and vascular risk. J Thromb Haemost 2003; 1(7): 1575–1579.

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