Insulin Resistance

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Robert Ferry Jr., MD

    Robert Ferry Jr., MD

    Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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Who is at risk for insulin resistance?

An individual is more likely to have or develop insulin resistance if he or she:

  • Is overweight with a body mass index (BMI) more than 25 kg/m2. You can calculate your BMI by taking your weight (in kilograms) and dividing twice by your height (in meters).
  • Is a man with a waist more than 40 inches or a woman with a waist more than 35 inches
  • Is over 40 years of age
  • Is of Latino, African American, Native American or Asian American ancestry
  • Has close family members who have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or arteriosclerosis
  • Has had gestational diabetes
  • Has a history of high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, arteriosclerosis (or other components of the metabolic syndrome)
  • Has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Displays acanthosis nigricans

How is insulin resistance diagnosed?

A health care professional can identify individuals likely to have insulin resistance by taking a detailed history, performing a physical examination, and simple laboratory testing based on individual risk factors.

In general practice, the fasting blood glucose and insulin levels are usually adequate to determine whether insulin resistance and/or diabetes is present. The exact insulin level for diagnosis varies by assay (by laboratory). However, a fasting insulin level above the upper quartile in a non-diabetic patient is considered abnormal.

How is insulin resistance managed?

Management of insulin resistance is through lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and disease prevention; and medications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2016

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