Diabetes mellitus is an independent risk factor for atherothrombotic cardiovascular disease. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease or stroke than adults without diabetes. The two major features of diabetes, i.e., hyperglycemia and insulin-resistance, trigger arterial stiffening and increase the susceptibility of the arterial wall to atherosclerosis at any given age. These pathological changes in the arterial wall may provide a functional and structural background for cardiovascular events. The present paper provides a critical overview of the clinical evidence linking diabetes-related metabolic abnormalities to cardiovascular risk, debates the pathophysiologic mechanisms through which insulin resistance and hyperglycemia may affect the arterial wall, and discusses the associations between vascular biomarkers, metabolic abnormalities and cardiovascular events.
Keywords: arterial stiffness; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular risk; diabetes; hyperglycemia; insulin resistance.