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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998 Mar;18(3):450-7.

Hyperinsulinemia and cardiovascular disease in elderly men: the Honolulu Heart Program.

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Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Honolulu, HI, USA.


Hyperinsulinemia has been associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), but whether this relation is independent of other CVD risk factors is uncertain. Most studies have focused on coronary heart disease (CHD), but few have included peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and stroke. Moreover, evidence in elderly and minority populations is limited. Between 1991 and 1993, 3562 elderly (71 to 93 years) Japanese-American men from the Honolulu Heart Program were examined and had fasting insulin levels measured. Hyperinsulinemia, defined as a fasting insulin > or =95th percentile among nonobese men with normal glucose tolerance and no diabetic history or medication use, was observed in 22% of the population. Subjects with hyperinsulinemia had a more adverse CVD risk factor profile and had higher age-adjusted prevalences of CHD, angina, PVD, thromboembolic stroke, and hemorrhagic stroke compared with those without hyperinsulinemia. Age-adjusted fasting insulin levels but not 2-hour levels were also significantly elevated (P<.01) in those with prevalent CVD compared with those without. In logistic regression analyses, adjustment for multiple CVD risk factors attenuated the relations of hyperinsulinemia with CHD, angina, and PVD to nonsignificant levels, whereas those involving thromboembolic and hemorrhagic stroke were strengthened and remained significant (odds ratios=2.27 and 7.53, 95% confidence intervals=1.25 to 4.13 and 1.65 to 34.25, respectively). When multivariate analyses were restricted to nondiabetic subjects, associations were slightly weaker and in general nonsignificant. Nondiabetic men with thromboembolic stroke were twice as likely to have hyperinsulinemia as those who were stroke-free, although this association was of borderline significance (odds ratio= 1.99, 95% confidence interval=0.95 to 4.17, P=.069). In subjects with elevated total cholesterol levels, somewhat stronger associations were observed for PVD and stroke but not for CHD. Although further prospective studies are indicated, particularly for PVD and stroke, these cross-sectional results are consistent with an indirect role for insulin in CVD, wherein hyperinsulinemia or an underlying insulin-resistant state may adversely affect other CVD risk factors or serve as a marker for an atherogenic or thrombogenic state.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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