Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Heart Disease

Upward of 60 million Americans have some form of Diabetes, with hundreds of thousands more due to be diagnosed each year with a disorder that is closely related to Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome. Diabetics are up to four times more likely to die of heart disease than non-Diabetics. (See Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome and Heart Disease.)




Diabetes is also strongly linked to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). (See Insulin Resistance, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and Heart Disease.) Before most individuals develop the full-blown variety, called Type 2 Diabetes, they initially have a condition called Pre-Diabetes, which is characterized by blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, although not enough to trigger a diagnosis of Type II.

It is crucial to address Pre-Diabetes because a growing body of scientific research suggests that long-term damage to the cardiovascular system is occurring among people with this condition. The good news is that Type 2 Diabetes can be avoided with relatively minor lifestyle changes like eating a balanced, nutritious diet and getting enough regular exercise to lose weight.

Pre-Diabetes is reversible through weight loss that stems from a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise. But if neglected, it can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, which, in the vast majority of cases, can only be managed for the rest of a Diabetic’s life and usually requires daily injections of insulin. Type 2 Diabetes, itself, is a severely increased risk factor for numerous serious complications like heart and kidney disease, failing eyesight and blindness, and the need for amputation of limbs.

Unfortunately, most Americans diagnosed with some form of Diabetes have Type 2 Diabetes. This condition can be related to Insulin Resistance, which occurs when the body fails to properly metabolize insulin, combined with insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas. Obesity is often the result.

Long-Term Damage

Insulin is vital for the process whereby blood sugar, or glucose, passes through the cell wall via insulin receptor sites to be converted into energy. The number of these sites is vastly reduced by Insulin Resistance and, as a result, levels of glucose and levels of insulin in the bloodstream become severely unbalanced. Two serious conditions can develop because of this imbalance. The first is that your cells can be starved of energy. The second is that, over time, high blood glucose levels can cause long-term damage to your heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

While different forms of Diabetes can occur in people of all ages and races, research has shown that some racial groups have a higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes than others.This condition is more common in African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, as well as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. (See Minorities and Heart Disease.) The elderly are also at greater risk. If present, the most common Type 2 Diabetes symptoms are:

  • increased production of urine-the body is trying to get rid of excess glucose
  • being unusually thirsty
  • fatigue because the glucose is “going to waste” and not being converted into energy
  • weight loss
  • increased appetite
  • feeling ill or nauseous
  • blurred vision
  • infections such as thrush or irritation of the genitals

Some people might simply feel a bit unwell or assume they are just aging. Although Type 2 Diabetes can only be managed, people with the disorder often lead long lives. But it is obviously vital to avoid developing this condition by reversing Pre-Diabetes whenever possible.

Recommendations for reducing heart disease risk are the same as those for reducing Insulin Resistance and the symptoms of Pre-Diabetes: balancing glucose and insulin levels in the bloodstream, losing weight, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowering blood pressure.

This can be done through careful meal choices, including low cholesterol food, together with exercise and weight loss in overweight individuals.

Combating Heart Disease

Cross Walk SignsNearly all of us are born with immaculate arteries. But as soon as we learn how to feed ourselves, our arteries begin to go from clean to clogged. Taking better care of our cardiovascular system by watching our weight via a balanced diet and regular exercise goes a long way toward countering this effect. Adopting a healthier lifestyle will add years to your life as well as improving its quality.

If you pass this information on to your children, they, too, can take steps to avoid premature heart disease.

It isn’t just adult men who are especially prone to heart disease. Even pre-menopausal women, who were long considered resistant to “heart trouble.” should learn to reduce the risk factors that can cause damage to their cardiovascular systems later in life.

When it comes to heart disease, there are factors that you can’t influence, like genetic vulnerability-we can’t choose our ancestors or alter our genes-and the aging process. But there are plenty of other areas where the effectiveness of taking preventive action is well documented by facts and figures.

CigarettesStopping smoking is a prime example. More than 400,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related diseases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smokers are four times more likely to have heart attacks and develop cardiovascular diseases than non-smokers. Men have a slightly higher risk than women. On average, lifetime smokers have a 50 percent chance of dying from a smoking-related disease. But quitting can quickly begin to nullify the risks-it’s never too late to stop. One year after quitting, your risk of heart disease drops by 50 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Within 15 years a former smoker’s risk of dying from heart disease approaches that of a lifetime non-smoker.

Lowering your LDL “bad” cholesterol has enormous benefits. Doctors and nutritionists have a wealth of information about low-cholesterol diets. Almost everyone who has a heart attack or undergoes bypass surgery is now given a statin, a type of cholesterol-lowering agent, regardless of his or her cholesterol level. The statin drugs that reduce cholesterol also reduce the level of C-Reactive Protein, a marker for inflammation of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Switching to low-cholesterol food is highly advisable.

Controlling Your Blood Pressure and getting it to normal levels greatly reduces the risk of both stroke and heart attack by slowing down the formation of arterial plaque that narrows the blood vessels everywhere in the body-especially in the heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and legs.

Managing Your Blood Sugar is vital to avoiding Pre-Diabetes, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. (See Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Heart Disease.) Although Type 2 Diabetes can be managed over a long life, almost 80 percent of Diabetics eventually die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

Next Steps

  1. Take the PCOS Quiz!  Get your score and assess your hormone health risks.
  2. Join our Facebook Sisterhood Group Pose your questions to this group of like-minded women. Get the answers to your questions and the support you need.
  3. Checkout the Hormone Reset. Guided Practices to eliminate anxiety, lose weight and boost energy.

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