Insulin is a hormone created by the beta cells within the islet of Langerhans in the pancreas. This unique substance is responsible for enabling the cells of the body to use glucose, or sugar, for energy. Occasionally, the body will develop an inability to properly use insulin for this purpose. As a result the blood glucose becomes elevated, leading to a myriad of health problems.
Insulin resistance has also been referred to as metabolic syndrome or syndrome X. This condition includes several health issues which when combined present an elevated risk of diabetes and heart disease. There is approximately 70 to 80 million Americans who suffer with metabolic syndrome induced health conditions.
A person who has insulin resistance syndrome will have abnormal fasting blood glucose testing, or an impaired glucose tolerance test. Their cholesterol levels will be irregular, with a low HDL value and high triglycerides. They may suffer with elevated blood pressure, though the exact trigger for this effect is unclear. Atherosclerosis will commonly be present with a greater risk for blood clots. As insulin resistance progresses the kidneys may also be damaged.
Anyone can develop metabolic syndrome, however there are certain factors which contribute to the possibility of acquiring it. A family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes makes individual more susceptible. Also, persons over the age of 40, who are thicker around the waist rather than the hips or are obese, and are of certain ethic decent such as Black, Native American, or Latino. Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome, or had gestational diabetes are also more likely to develop insulin resistance.
Prevention and treatment of this health condition is directed at exercise, eating a nutritionally balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. There are medications available to assist in the treatment.