Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular risk, and the link to insulin resistance

Clin Ther. 2003;25 Suppl B:B4-31. doi: 10.1016/s0149-2918(03)80240-0.


Background: Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus frequently have coexistent dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity, and are at risk for microvascular and macrovascular disease complications such as myocardial infarction, stroke, retinopathy, and microalbuminuria. To optimize cardiovascular health outcomes for patients with type 2 diabetes, strategies to reduce the risks of microvascular and macrovascular disease are needed in clinical practice.

Objective: This article provides an overview of the cardiovascular risk profile of patients with type 2 diabetes and discusses the cardiovascular consequences of use of the thiazolidinediones (insulin-sensitizing agents) in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Methods: A literature search of MEDLINE/PubMed was performed to identify relevant articles published from 1966 to April 2003. Search terms used were diabetes, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia, obesity, hypertension, blood pressure, hyperglycemia, inflammation, C-reactive protein, fibrinolysis, plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1, microalbuminuria, thiazolidinediones, safety, hepatotoxicity, and edema. Bibliographies within the identified articles were also evaluated for additional relevant articles and information.

Results: Recommendations for cardiovascular risk reduction through preventive and therapeutic strategies that target the symptoms of insulin resistance may reduce the microvascular and macrovascular sequelae of diabetes and ameliorate the impact of other components of the metabolic syndrome, including hypertension, hyperglycemia, and obesity. In this regard, thiazolidinediones are promising therapies.

Conclusions: Early data suggest that, in addition to reducing hyperglycemia, pioglitazone and rosiglitazone effect changes in the dyslipidemic profile, hemodynamics, vascular inflammation, and endothelial functioning of patients with type 2 diabetes. Additional research is needed to further distinguish the cardiovascular benefits of these drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy
  • Hyperlipidemias / etiology
  • Hyperlipidemias / physiopathology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Obesity
  • Pioglitazone
  • Risk Factors
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Pioglitazone