Insulin resistance in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Eur Respir J. 2009 Feb;33(2):318-24. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00000508. Epub 2008 Dec 1.


Although obesity, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance (IR) are well known risk factors for systemic cardiovascular disease, their impact on pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is unknown. The present authors' previous studies indicate that IR may be a risk factor for PAH. The current study has investigated the prevalence of IR in PAH and explored its relationship with disease severity. Clinical data and fasting blood samples were evaluated in 81 nondiabetic PAH females. In total, 967 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) females served as controls. The fasting triglyceride to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio was used as a surrogate of insulin sensitivity. While body mass index was similar in NHANES versus PAH females (28.6 versus 28.7 kg.m(-2)), PAH females were more likely to have IR (45.7 versus 21.5%) and less likely to be insulin sensitive (IS; 43.2 versus 57.8%). PAH females mostly (82.7%) had New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II and III symptoms. Aetiology, NYHA class, 6-min walk-distance and haemodynamics did not differ between IR and IS PAH groups. However, the presence of IR and a higher NYHA class was associated with poorer 6-months event-free survival (58 versus 79%). Insulin resistance appears to be more common in pulmonary arterial hypertension females than in the general population, and may be a novel risk factor or disease modifier that might impact on survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / metabolism
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Triglycerides