Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body cannot use insulin efficiently. About 60 million Americans have insulin resistance.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that instructs cells (in the muscle, fat and liver) to take up glucose (sugar) from the blood stream when there is too much glucose in the blood.

In insulin resistance, cells of the body do not respond to insulin to efficiently remove glucose. The pancreas responds by making more insulin to try to keep blood glucose levels normal. The insulin producing cells of the pancreas slowly become defective and eventually reduce in number. As a result, blood glucose levels rise over time causing diabetes to develop.

Insulin resistance is the core metabolic disorder associated with type 2 diabetes. One in four people develop type 2 diabetes, which can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Risk factors for insulin resistance:

  • Family History of type 2 diabetes
  • Race or Ethnic Background of African, Latino, Native American descent
  • Being Overweight (more than 20% over optimal body weight)
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Increasing age raises risk
  • Previous Gestational Diabetes or delivering a baby over 9 lbs

There are often no signs or symptoms of insulin resistance. If you have a mild or moderate form of insulin resistance, blood tests may show normal or high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) and high levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) at the same time.

One test usually does not confirm insulin resistance, but a combination of tests can:

  • Fasting insulin blood test
  • Glucose tolerance testing
  • Physical exam and medical history

There are a few things you can do that can help prevent insulin resistance.

  • Physical activity
  • Weight loss
  • Healthy eating

 

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