If you have prediabetes or diabetes mellitus, most likely you have heard medical terms such as insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome. These terms denote a complex of health problems that have something in common – an increased risk of developing diabetes and early heart disease.
The combination of medical conditions that constitute insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome places a person at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It has been estimated that 70-80 million Americans have a combination of diseases caused by insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.
Diseases caused by insulin resistance include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Pathological cholesterol levels
- Heart disease
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
What is insulin resistance?
Normally, food enters the bloodstream in the form of simple sugars, such as glucose and other simple substances. Increasing the level of sugar in the blood stream signals the pancreas (organ located behind the stomach) to increase the secretion of a hormone called insulin. This hormone attaches to cells, removing sugar from the bloodstream so that it can be used as an energy source.
When insulin resistance, cells of the body have a reduced ability to respond to insulin action. In order to compensate for insulin resistance, the pancreas begins to produce more insulin.
People with this syndrome have insulin resistance and high levels of insulin in the blood, which is more likely a marker of the disease than the cause.
Over time, when high insulin levels can no longer compensate for elevated sugar levels, people with insulin resistance develop high levels of blood sugar or diabetes.
What are the signs of insulin resistance syndrome?
Symptoms of insulin resistance syndrome are:
- Impaired fasting blood sugar, impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes. This is due to the fact that the pancreas cannot release enough insulin to cover insulin resistance. Blood sugar levels continue to rise and diabetes is being diagnosed.
- High blood pressure. The mechanism of this is not clear, but the results of studies suggest that the higher the blood pressure, the higher the degree of insulin resistance.
- Pathological cholesterol levels. Typical cholesterol levels in diabetes mellitus are low HDL or good cholesterol and high blood triglycerides.
- Heart Disease. Insulin resistance syndrome can lead to the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and an increased risk of thrombosis.
- Obesity. The main factor in the development of insulin resistance syndrome is obesity, especially in the abdominal type (fat deposition on the anterior abdominal wall). Obesity provokes the development of insulin resistance and adversely affects the body’s ability to respond to insulin. Weight loss can improve the body’s ability to recognize and appropriately use insulin.
- Damage to the kidneys. The presence of protein in the urine is a sign of kidney damage, although this indicator is not always used to diagnose insulin resistance syndrome.
How is insulin resistance syndrome diagnosed?
There is no simple test that can reveal insulin resistance syndrome. Most often, your doctor may suspect this syndrome if you have the following risk factors:
- More than one parent, or brother, or sister, has diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease.
- Obesity or overweight (body mass index or BMI above 25).
- More body fat on the waist than on the hips (apple shape).
- Age over 40 years.
- Gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
- A history of a condition called polycyotex ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Belonging to a particular ethnic group (Latinos, African Americans or Native Americans).
At present, the obesity epidemic among children also increases the risk of developing insulin resistance syndrome.
What is the treatment of insulin resistance syndrome?
Special prescription drugs have been approved for use in the treatment of insulin resistance, which occurs in type 2 diabetes. Such drugs are Glucophage (metformin), pioglitazone and Avandia (rosiglitazone). These medicines increase the sensitivity of your body to the action of insulin. For treating various conditions that are part of insulin resistance syndrome, many medicines are commonly used, such as drugs to lower cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Is there prevention of insulin resistance syndrome?
Yes. If you lead a healthy lifestyle, you can prevent the development of insulin resistance syndrome and related diseases. Here are a few steps to prevent the development of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome:
- Physical exercise. Try to walk for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week (the exercises can be divided into 3 separate periods of 10 minutes each)
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat right. A balanced calorie restricted diet is recommended.