Hyperinsulinemia is a condition in which there are excess levels of insulin circulating in the blood. These levels are higher than what is considered normal amongst non-diabetics. Scientists have known for a long time that there is a strong association between diabetes and Alzheimer’s. A new study has looked at decades of research on Alzheimer’s, diabetes and molecular chemistry. The team from New York University (NYU), led by Professor Melissa Schilling, explored the pathway between diabetes and Alzheimer’s. They found that the main mechanism that connected the two diseases was insulin and the enzymes that break it down.
What is hyperinsulinemia?
Hyperinsulinemia is a condition where the blood insulin level is higher than what is considered normal in people without diabetes. It is often mistaken for diabetes or hyperglycaemia but it can result from a variety of metabolic diseases and conditions. When a person has hyperinsulinemia they have a problem controlling blood sugar and the pancreas has to secrete larger amounts of insulin to keep blood sugar at a normal level.
The primary cause of hyperinsulinemia is insulin resistance where the pancreas compensates by producing more insulin. This can lead to type 2 diabetes when the pancreas cannot secrete the insulin required to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
What are the symptoms of hyperinsulinemia?
- Weight gain
- Intense hunger
- Cravings for sugar
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling anxious or panicky
- Lack of motivation
By clicking on the video, you can listen to Dr Chris talking about the importance of this subject.
The link between hyperinsulinemia and Alzheimer’s
When people have hyperinsulinemia, the enzymes are too busy breaking down insulin to break down amyloid-beta, the protein that causes tangles and plaques to form in the brain. This accumulation of amyloid-beta is thought to be a major factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The good news is that hyperinsulinemia is preventable and can be treated by patients making lifestyle changes such as changes to their diet, taking more exercise and medication.
Professor Schilling points out, “If we can raise awareness and get more people tested and treated for hyperinsulinemia, we could significantly reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other diabetes-related health problems.”
She goes on to say, “Everyone should be tested, early and often, preferably with the A1C test that doesn’t require fasting. Dementia patients should especially be tested – some studies have shown that treating the underlying hyperinsulinemia can slow or even reverse Alzheimer’s.”
Professor Schilling’s research has been published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
If you would like to find out more about the condition, please follow the link below to Diabetes.co.uk: