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Insulin resistance and pre-diabetes

Insulin resistance means a person's body doesn't process sugars properly, allowing blood glucose levels to rise. This insulin resistance may not be enough for a diabetes diagnosis, but it may be a sign of a condition called prediabetes.

It is estimated that between a third and two-thirds of people with prediabetes with raised or impaired blood glucose levels will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

Conditions associated with insulin resistance include the following:

What is insulin resistance?

Normally, food is absorbed into the bloodstream in the form of sugars such as glucose and other basic substances. The increase in sugar in the bloodstream signals the pancreas - an organ located behind the stomach - to increase the secretion of a hormone called insulin. This hormone attaches to cells, removing sugar from the bloodstream so that it can be used for energy.

In insulin resistance, the body's cells have a diminished ability to respond to the action of the insulin hormone. To compensate for the insulin resistance, the pancreas secretes more insulin.

People with this condition have insulin resistance and high levels of insulin in the blood as a sign of the condition rather than a cause.

Over time, people with insulin resistance can develop high sugar levels or diabetes as the high insulin levels can no longer compensate for elevated sugars.

What is the treatment for insulin resistance?

Specific prescribed medications are approved to treat the insulin resistance that occurs with type 2 diabetes. These drugs make your body more sensitive to the actions of insulin. Other drugs, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs or anti-hypertensive drugs, are usually necessary to treat the different conditions that are often associated with the insulin resistance.

Is insulin resistance preventable?

Yes. If you live a healthy lifestyle, you may be able to avoid developing insulin resistance and the associated conditions. Here are some tips to prevent insulin resistance:

  • Exercise. Try walking 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week. You can divide this exercise into three separate periods of 10 minutes each, if you like. Try and achieve at least 150 minutes a week.
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Eat healthily. A healthy, calorie-controlled diet is recommended.


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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on December 27, 2017

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