Insulin resistance is a cardiovascular risk factor in humans

Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019 Mar-Apr;13(2):1449-1455. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2019.02.023. Epub 2019 Feb 22.


Diabetes is a common metabolic disorder associated to elevated cardiovascular morbidity and mortality that is not explained by hyperglycemia or traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking or hypercholesterolemia. Intensive glycemic control with insulin that achieves near-normal glycemia does not reduce significantly macrovascular complications compared with conventional glycemic control. Cardiovascular disease continues to develop in patients with diabetes despite adequate glycemic control. In contrast, intensive control with metformin (leading to insulin resistance improvement) reduces diabetes complications, including cardiovascular events, suggesting that enhancement of insulin sensitivity rather than plasma glucose level has a major role improving diabetes outcomes. Accordingly, insulin resistance estimated by glucose tolerance tests is better predictor of future cardiovascular events than fasting glucose level in nondiabetic individuals. Insulin resistance precedes for decades the clinical onset of type 2 diabetes and deteriorates metabolic control of type 1 diabetes. Numerous investigations including cross-sectional and prospective studies, meta-analyses, and systematic reviews provide compelling evidence that insulin resistance by itself is a cardiovascular risk factor in a variety of population groups, including the general population and patients with diabetes. Several estimations of insulin resistance have been consistently associated with elevated rate of cardiovascular events independently of other cardiovascular risk factors and diabetes status. The clinical expression of insulin resistance (the metabolic syndrome or any of its components including obesity, hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, and dyslipemia) has been related to cardiovascular disease as well. An estimation conducted by the Archimedes model confirms that insulin resistance is the most important single cause of coronary artery disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors