Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition in which body cells do not fully respond to the action of insulin, a hormone that controls the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels become abnormally high. Over time, insulin resistance can result in consistently high blood sugar levels, which…

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition in which body cells do not fully respond to the action of insulin, a hormone that controls the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels become abnormally high.

Over time, insulin resistance can result in consistently high blood sugar levels, which increases a person's risk for type 2 diabetes. Pregnant women who are insulin resistant have an increased risk for gestational diabetes.

Usually, insulin resistance develops in people who are overweight and not physically active. These characteristics are often associated with having high cholesterol and high blood pressure. People who are insulin resistant have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, especially if other risk factors, such as being a smoker or having high cholesterol levels, are present.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance refers to the inability of the body tissues to respond properly to insulin. Insulin lets sugar (glucose) enter body cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin also helps muscles, fat, and liver cells store sugar to be released when it is needed. If the body tissues do not respond properly to insulin…

Insulin Resistance

Topic Overview

Insulin resistance refers to the inability of the body tissues to respond properly to insulin. Insulin lets sugar (glucose) enter body cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin also helps muscles, fat, and liver cells store sugar to be released when it is needed. If the body tissues do not respond properly to insulin, the blood sugar level rises.

Insulin resistance causes the pancreas to release too much insulin (hyperinsulinemia). It may also cause the liver to release too much sugar into the blood.

Several things may increase insulin resistance, including:

  • Family history. Insulin resistance may run in families.
  • Being overweight. The more a person weighs, the more insulin his or her pancreas makes and the less the person's body cells respond to insulin. People who are overweight mostly in the upper body have greater insulin resistance and have the greatest risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Lack of exercise. People who get little or no exercise often have much greater insulin resistance than people who exercise on a regular basis.
  • Age. Teens and older adults usually have greater insulin resistance. Teens have greater insulin resistance because of growth hormones.
  • Pregnancy. In the last 3 to 4 months of pregnancy (third trimester), insulin resistance is increased. A woman who did not have diabetes before pregnancy can develop a type called gestational diabetes.
  • Some medicines such glucocorticoids (for example, prednisone) can reduce the body's response to insulin.

Credits

Current as ofApril 16, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Lois Jovanovic MD - Endocrinology

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.