Hyperinsulinemia is a condition in which a person has a very high level of insulin in the blood. Over time, high insulin levels may cause high blood pressure (hypertension), weight gain, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and may increase a person's risk of heart attack and stroke.

The pancreas, a gland behind the stomach, produces insulin and may make too much when:

  • The body's cells and tissues do not fully respond to the action of insulin (insulin resistance). Because of this, the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood increases. The body responds by releasing more insulin from the pancreas in an attempt to normalize blood sugar levels.
  • A person is overweight.
  • A person takes large doses of insulin.
  • A person takes a medication that interferes with the action of insulin.

Losing weight and eating a balanced diet can help decrease hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.

Last Updated: June 16, 2008

Author: Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & Matthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology & Metabolism

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