Insulin is a hormone released from the pancreas in response to blood sugar elevation. Blood sugar (glucose) goes up when we eat sugar and other carbohydrates, then insulin is released. We need insulin, but it is best when levels are low.
When insulin levels are high, cells stop responding to this hormone. Blood sugar goes up and diabetes is the official diagnosis. The cells essentially say, “We are full!”
This scenario, often called insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia, is a recipe for cardiovascular disaster. Insulin resistance and diabetes markedly increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, but also cancer and dementia.
Insulin stores sugar AND fat. Yes, insulin connects to cells and takes the glucose from the blood and stores it into the muscles, the liver and FAT. The stored form of glucose in muscles and liver is called glycogen.
Insulin increases HMG CoA Reductase enzyme activity. This enzyme is an important step in the formation of cholesterol. When insulin levels are high, more cholesterol is made. Statin drugs turn off this enzyme. So does keeping your insulin levels low.
Insulin stimulates RAAS thus leading to hypertension. The RAAS system is a series of steps leading to constriction of blood vessels and the retention of sodium. Insulin appears to enhance several of these steps.
Insulin elevation is linked to atrial fibrillation. Insulin appears to have direct effects on atrial muscle tissue leading to fibrosis and also leads to abnormal calcium signalling.
Other functions of insulin such as gene transcription, protein formation and DNA synthesis are very important. But these processes can get out of whack with too much insulin around.
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