Insulin Resistance and Heart Health

Written by Bonnie Sanders Polin PhD

Insulin Resistance and Heart Health in Youth with Type 1 Diabetes
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism featured an article titled "A unique phenotype of insulin resistance in adolescents with type 1 diabetes: Implications for cardiovascular function" in its November 2009 issue. The research, led by Dr. Kristen Nadeau, found that having abnormal insulin resistance appears to have a negative impact on the proper functioning of the heart and blood vessels in young people. It also negatively affects their ability to exercise.

The study focused on 12 adolescents with type 1 diabetes. (Note that this is a very small study group, though the research results should still be taken seriously.) The researchers compared their insulin resistance and heart, blood vessel, and exercise function to a control group.

The results indicate that insulin resistance is directly related to decreased heart and vessel function and appears to impair capacity to exercise.

It has long been known that cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in adults with diabetes. But until now, little was known about the impact of type 1 diabetes on cardiovascular health in youth. The researchers concluded, "If insulin resistance is addressed early in care of patients with type 1 diabetes, it may be possible to decrease cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in this population."

To learn more about this study, click here.

FDA Approves Statin for Wider Use, Despite Diabetes Concerns
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked an expert panel to determine if Crestor, a statin (a cholesterol-lowering drug), should be available to people without high cholesterol. Crestor has been shown to reduce heart attack and stroke in patients without a history of heart disease. But there are safety concerns for people with diabetes.

In a 17,000-patient trial, patients taking Crestor experienced a 44% reduction in major cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, stroke, and death.

After an extensive review, the FDA panel voted in favor of expanding Crestor's audience to people who don't have high cholesterol. That way, people who don't have high cholesterol can also benefit from Crestor's ability to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Though the FDA has approved the drug for wider use, it cites several safety concerns, including a higher rate of diabetes in patients taking Crestor. It should be noted, though, that the FDA says that diabetes is a possible side effect of all medications in the statin class.

In the patient trial, about 2.8% of those taking Crestor developed diabetes, compared to 2.3% taking a placebo. This is a significant difference.

To learn more about Crestor, click here.