People with insulin resistance are at a high risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance happens when the body doesn't use insulin like it should. Problems with blood vessels of the heart are one of the complications that develop on the way to getting diabetes.
There is a rising incidence of type 2 diabetes in the same populations affected by obesity and coronary artery disease (CAD), since type 2 diabetes is also a disease of lifestyle.
The risk of CAD is at least doubled in affected individuals and even more so in women than in men.
The increased risk is caused, at least partly, by direct effects on the wall of the artery. Those with diabetes have a greater tendency to form plaque, which leads to atherosclerosis, and so these people are predisposed to such problems as angina, heart attacks and stroke.
Insulin resistance, i.e. an inability to utilise insulin, is often the beginning of type 2 diabetes. It has many of the same effects as type 2 diabetes and has a strong genetic component.
The good news is that insulin resistance and even diabetes can often be reversed by diet and exercise if caught early enough in responsive individuals.
For more information on care and support of diabetes, visit the website of Diabetes South Africa or phone them on 086 111 3913.
- (Diabetes SA/Health24, updated May 2009)