Diabetes mellitus as a prothrombotic condition

J Intern Med. 2007 Aug;262(2):157-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2007.01824.x.


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is characterized by fasting hyperglycaemia and a high risk of atherothrombotic disorders affecting the coronary, cerebral and peripheral arterial trees. The risk of myocardial infarction (MI) is 3-5 fold higher in Type 2 DM and a DM subject with no history of MI has the same risk as a non-DM subject with a past history of MI. In total around 70% of deaths are vascular with poorer outcomes to both acute events and cardiological interventions. It was proposed that clustering of vascular risk factors (hyperinsulinaemia, dysglycaemia, dyslipidaemia and hypertension) around insulin resistance (IR) accounted for the increase in risk with Type 2 DM. The importance of this became apparent with the recognition that risk clustering occurs in normoglycaemic and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) subjects with IR, in total around 25% of the population in addition to long-standing Type 1 subjects with renal disease. Evidence indicates that thrombotic risk clustering also occurs in association with IR, suppression of fibrinolysis due to elevated concentrations of the fibrinolytic inhibitor, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is invariable with IR and there is evidence that this is regulated by the effects of triglyceride on the PAI-1 gene promoter. Other studies indicated that prothrombotic risk (coagulation factors VII, XII and fibrinogen) also associates with the IR syndrome. The development of endothelial cell dysfunction with suppression of nitric oxide and prostacyclin synthesis, combined with platelet resistance to the anti-aggregatory effects of these hormones leads to loss of control over platelet activation. In addition, hyperglycaemia and glycation have marked effects on fibrin structure function, generating a clot which has a denser structure, resistant to fibrinolysis. The combination of increased circulating coagulation zymogens, inhibition of fibrinolysis, changes in fibrin structure/function and alterations in platelet reactivity creates a thrombotic risk clustering which underpins the development of cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation Factors / physiology
  • Blood Platelets / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Fibrinogen / physiology
  • Fibrinolysis / physiology
  • Hemostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / physiopathology*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / physiology


  • Blood Coagulation Factors
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • Fibrinogen
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator