Background: The Helsinki Policemen Study is one of the first prospective epidemiological studies demonstrating an association of hyperinsulinemia to the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The aim of the present study was to investigate the predictive value of hyperinsulinemia with regard to CHD risk during a 22-year follow-up of the Helsinki Policemen Study population.
Methods and results: The study was based on a cohort of 970 men who were 34 to 64 years of age and free of CHD, other cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Risk factor measurements at baseline examination included an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) with blood glucose and plasma insulin measurements at 0, 1, and 2 hours. Area under the plasma insulin response curve (AUC insulin) during OGTT was used as a composite variable reflecting plasma insulin levels. During the 22-year follow-up, 164 men had a major CHD event (CHD death or nonfatal myocardial infarction). Age-adjusted hazard ratios for a major CHD event comparing men in the highest AUC insulin quintile with those in the combined 4 lower quintiles during 5-, 10-, 15-, and 22-year follow-up periods were 3.29 (95% CI, 1.56 to 6.91), 2.72 (95% CI, 1.67 to 4.42), 2.14 (95% CI, 1.43 to 3.21), and 1.61 (95% CI, 1.14 to 2.27), respectively. Further adjustment for other risk factors attenuated these hazard ratios to 2.36 (95% CI, 1.00 to 5.57), 2.29 (95% CI, 1.31 to 4.02), 1.76 (95% CI, 1.09 to 2.82), and 1.32 (95% CI, 0.89 to 1.97), respectively.
Conclusions: Hyperinsulinemia predicted CHD risk in Helsinki policemen over the 22-year follow-up, and to a large extent independently of other CHD risk factors, but its predictive value diminished with lengthening follow-up time.