High Insulin Levels Could Mean Better Blood Vessels

Researchers found that vascular function was significantly improved following weight loss in obese patients with high levels of insulin.

According to a new study published in the Journal of American College Cardiology, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center have found that obese patients with high insulin levels showed better blood vessel function after undergoing significant weight loss than patients with lower insulin levels.

Researchers studied 208 overweight or obese patients who had received medical/dietary or bariatric surgery for one year and measured insulin levels and vascular cell function both before and after weight loss. Researchers discovered that in the patients who experienced more than 10 percent weight loss, those with higher plasma insulin levels before the weight loss had improved blood vessel function. Patients with lower initial insulin levels who experienced a similar amount of weight loss did not show a significant change in vascular function. The findings suggest that weight loss must be at least 10 percent to result in a marked benefit in blood vessel function.

BUSM announced on their website:

“Our study has shown that insulin status is an important determinant of the positive effect of weight reduction on vascular function with hyperinsulinemic patients deriving the greatest benefit,” explained corresponding author Noyan Gokce, MD, FACC, associate professor of medicine at BUSM and Director of Echocardiography at BMC.

BUSM says that obesity has been a critical health care issue since the 1990s when cases of severe obesity in the United States tripled. According to the CDC, more than one third of American adults and 17 percent of American children are considered overweight or obese. Although obesity comes with a long list of potentially fatal health concerns, BUSM researchers say the majority of obesity-related deaths are due to inhibited cardiovascular function resulting in heart attacks and strokes. Increased insulin levels combined with more than 10 percent weight loss may be a step toward improving cardiovascular function in obese and overweight patients.