Insulin Resistance and Angina

Two of the most serious health conditions for aging Americans are diabetes and heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest figures available show 597,689 deaths in 2010 were due to heart disease, the leading cause of death, and a further 69,071 deaths were due to diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death. With the latest advances in scientific research, however, there are many ways individuals with diabetes can improve their health, such as taking natural supplements to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Results of a recent study published in November 2013 concluded that insulin resistance and diabetes were significantly associated with coronary spastic angina (CSA). The study looked at the evidence that patients with CSA commonly show endothelial dysfunction which is a key precursor in the development of atherosclerosis. This condition is when plaque lines the artery walls, hardening them as a result of a build-up of cholesterol and triglycerides. Atherosclerosis can eventually lead to a coronary thrombosis which is a leading cause of a heart attack.

Study of Angina Sufferers with Diabetes

The study included 111 patients who were diagnosed as angina sufferers and included 81 men and 30 women. Their average age was 62. The control group consisted of 53 participants; 24 men and 29 women with an average age of 63 years. The participants were given an oral glucose tolerance test and insulin resistance was measured 60-120 minutes after the glucose load had been administered. The fasting plasma glucose levels were higher in those patients with CSA compared to the control group of non-angina sufferers.

Even before the study was published, doctors believed there was an association between high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). It was also known that diabetics were more likely than non-diabetics to suffer from heart problems such as angina. In fact, heart attacks account for 60% of deaths in those with insulin resistance and strokes account for a further 25% of deaths in diabetics.

It is believed that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increase the progression of atherosclerosis and the hardening of the arteries. Diabetics often have low levels of good HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides which are both risk factors for heart attacks and coronary artery disease. Furthermore, diabetics commonly have high blood pressure compared to non-diabetics and finally, impaired nerve function which is associated with diabetes may increase the risk of heart disease which is all bad news for those with insulin resistance.

Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease in Diabetics

Clearly those with insulin resistance or diabetes should make an extra effort in terms of lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart disease and CSA. Prevention of endothelial function, a precursor to plaque-lined arteries which may cause heart disease, includes regular exercise, stopping smoking, weight loss in those who are overweight, and switching to a healthier low-fat diet. As these functions are all recommended for diabetics, the improvement and lowering of the risk of atherosclerosis will also benefit those who are diagnosed as diabetic or pre-diabetic with insulin resistance. As the risk of angina and heart disease in diabetics seems to be higher than for non-diabetics, changing to a healthier lifestyle can only be beneficial for those diagnosed with insulin resistance.

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