Insulin resistance and atherosclerosis.

J S Nunes, L G Correia, J N Corrêa


The western way of life favours the development of a state of insulin resistance, in genetically predisposed subjects. In this state, greater levels of insulin are necessary so that an answer can be obtained and, consequently, hyperinsulinism occurs. Insulin has several target tissues, thus insulin resistance is associated with the dysfunction of a multiplicity of tissues, organs and systems in the body (Syndrome X). All of those dysfunctions together with hyperinsulinism can greatly enhance the risk of atherosclerotic vascular disease. In this article we review the dysfunction at several levels, including blood pressure, endothelium, lipid metabolism and fibrinolytic system and the way they can, together with hyperinsulinism, induce atherogenesis. We review some of the therapeutic options that can reduce this state of insulin resistance as well as the morbidity and mortality associated with atherosclerosis.

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