Hyperinsulinemia Risks, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

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Hyperinsulinemia is defined as high insulin levels in the blood and is a condition associated with type 2 diabetes. In addition, hyperinsulinemia is a factor in insulin resistance, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.

Insulin is a hormone that has many functions. One function important for diabetes is to transport sugar from the bloodstream into cells to be used for energy. In some people, insulin does not work properly because cell receptors are resistant to it.

This typically occurs when someone is carrying excess weight - fat inhibits insulin from doing its job. This condition is called insulin resistance.

Consequently, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Because the body is unable to use sugar for fuel, the cells become starved and you may feel excessively hungry or thirsty. The body attempts to lower blood sugar levels by releasing even more insulin. As a result, the body ends up with both high blood sugar levels and high insulin levels. 


  • Hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Depression, anxiety, and insomnia


  • High blood sugar levels as diabetes progresses
  • Poor blood fat levels, particularly high LDL (bad cholesterol), low HDL (good cholesterol), and increased triglycerides
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Increased appetite with strong cravings for carbohydrates and refined sugar
  • Difficulty losing body fat


    Because hyperinsulinemia is associated with insulin resistance, many people who have it also have large amounts of abdominal fat, otherwise known as visceral fat. In addition, hypoglycemia may be an indicator (particularly in infants born to mothers who have uncontrolled diabetes) to its presence as can high blood fat levels, fatigue, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and increased carbohydrate cravings.


    As this condition is a feature of type 2 diabetes, treatment measures are the same. Lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and exercise, are recommended.

    There has been an increase in research into the causes and treatment of hyperinsulinemia as well as its role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Some diabetes drugs increase insulin levels while lowering blood sugar levels. One drug that lowers both blood sugar and insulin levels is metformin. Metformin is a first-line agent for treating type 2 diabetes and this is the only drug that is approved by the FDA for diabetes prevention and is used in patients with metabolic syndrome or prediabetes.

    Interesting Facts

    In pregnant women with uncontrolled blood sugar levels, the fetus is exposed to high levels of sugar. In response, the fetal pancreas undergoes changes to produce more insulin. After birth, the baby will continue to experience excess levels of insulin or hyperinsulinemia and will experience a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. The baby is treated with glucose after delivery and insulin levels usually return to normal within two days.


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    Insulin Resistance Syndrome. American Family Physician. 

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