HDCN Article Review/Hyperlink

Bao W, Srinivasan SR, Berenson GS

Persistent elevation of plasma insulin levels is associated with increased cardiovascular risk in children and young adults

Circulation (Jan) 93:54-59 1996

AHA Press Release: DALLAS, Jan. 1 --
If any molecule could be said to exhibit a form of mob psychology, insulin might be that molecule. A report in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation provides new evidence that persistently elevated blood levels of insulin are associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk in children and young adults.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps break down sugar to get energy.

Researchers from the Bogalusa Heart Study, a 22-year examination of heart and blood vessel disease risk factors in a biracial population of children and young adults, gathered data on 739 males and females when they were 5-23 years old in 1981-82, and again when they were 13-31 in 1988-91. They found "elevated insulin levels persist from childhood through young adulthood, resulting in a clinically relevant adverse CVD risk profile in young adults."

The Tulane University (New Orleans) scientists found that individuals with relatively high or low blood levels of insulin maintained those levels through the eight intervening years. And, young men and women with persistently high blood levels of insulin were heavier, had higher blood pressures, higher blood glucose levels and higher blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the so-called "bad" cholesterol), very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and triglycerides (another blood fat) than their low-insulin counterparts. The high-insulin group also had lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, the "good" cholesterol).

"Subjects with persistently high levels of insulin . . . were more likely to develop hypertension, dyslipidemia [blood fat disorders that predispose to coronary heart disease] and obesity in young adulthood," report Gerald Berenson, M.D., and his colleagues.

He and his associates also noted associations between insulin and risk factors or parental history of disease in a subset of the study group. Study subjects with high insulin levels also were more likely to have parents affected by diabetes.

Thus, the researchers conclude, "The presence of multiple cardiovascular risk factors and parental cardiovascular diseases among young individuals with persistently high insulin levels points to the need for preventive measures early in life."

For original abstract, click here.