Health Condition

Insulin Resistance Syndrome

About This Condition

The insulin resistance syndrome (IRS; also called metabolic syndrome) is a group of health risk factors that increase the likelihood of heart disease,1,2,3,4 and perhaps other disorders, such as diabetes and some cancers.5,6 The risk factors that make up IRS include insulin resistance, which refers to the reduced ability of the hormone insulin to control the processing of glucose by the body. Other major risk factors often associated with IRS include high blood sugar and high blood triglycerides, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excessive body fat in the abdominal region. People with IRS do not always have every one of these risk factors, but they usually have many of them. A qualified doctor should make the diagnosis of IRS after a thorough examination and blood tests.

Most people with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, but many more people who are not diabetic also have insulin resistance.7,8,9 Since insulin resistance itself often does not cause symptoms, these people may not be aware of their problem. Some authorities believe insulin resistance is partially inherited and partially due to lifestyle factors.

In addition to the recommendations discussed below, people with IRS may benefit from some of the recommendations given for type 2 diabetes. People with IRS should also benefit from health strategies that reduce the severity of the risk factors they possess, including obesity, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure.


People with IRS may be overweight (especially in the trunk area), feel sluggish after eating, and may have been told that they have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Other Therapies

Treatment typically includes dietary changes to limit fat and calories, increased exercise, and changes in habits or patterns of eating.


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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

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