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Hypertension. 1997 Nov;30(5):1144-9.

Insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and blood pressure: role of age and obesity. European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance (EGIR).

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CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology, and the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Pisa, Italy.


In population surveys, blood pressure and plasma insulin concentration are related variables, but the association is confounded by age and obesity. Whether insulin resistance is independently associated with higher blood pressure in normal subjects is debated. We analyzed the database of the European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance, made up of nondiabetic men and women from 20 centers, in whom insulin sensitivity was measured by the euglycemic insulin clamp. After excluding subjects aged > or =70 years, those with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40 kg x m[-2]), and those with abnormal blood pressure values (> or =140/90 mm Hg), 333 cases (ages 18 to 70 years; BMI, 18.4 to 39.8 kg x m[-2]) were available for analysis. In univariate analysis, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were inversely related to insulin sensitivity, with r values of 0.18 (P<.005) and 0.34 (P<.0001), respectively. In a multivariate model simultaneously accounting for sex, age, BMI, and fasting insulin, systolic and diastolic blood pressures were still inversely related to insulin sensitivity (partial r, 0.15 and 0.19; P<.01 for both). In this model, age was positively related to blood pressure levels independently of insulin sensitivity, whereas BMI was not. The predicted impact on blood pressure of a decrease in insulin sensitivity of 10 micromol x min(-1) x kg(-1) was +1.4 mm Hg, similar to that associated with a 10-year difference in age. Although insulin levels and insulin action were reciprocally interrelated, diastolic blood pressure varied as a simultaneous function of both. In normotensive, nondiabetic Europeans, insulin sensitivity and age are significant, mutually independent correlates of blood pressure, whereas body mass is not. The relation of blood pressure to both insulin action and circulating insulin levels is compatible with distinct influences on blood pressure by insulin resistance and compensatory hyperinsulinemia.

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