It has been suggested that insulin resistance and consequent hyperinsulinemia promote atherosclerosis, but few prospective studies have reported the relationships between hyperinsulinemia and the development of ST-T abnormalities in the 12-lead resting electrocardiogram (ECG) in populations in which atherosclerosis is rare.


A total of 304 Japanese men and women, aged 20–69 years, selected for having high blood glucose or more than a trace-positive urine glucose from a population-based health examination in 1981, were followed for 11 years. Of these, 33 died, 1 from myocardial infarction, while 260/271 living were reexamined in 1992. The 237 subjects with a normal ECG at the baseline examination were analyzed.


Incident ST-T abnormalities occurred in 13/237 people. Insulin concentrations were positively associated with the development of ST-T abnormalities (relative risk approximately 8, comparing those in the highest versus lowest quartile of insulin values). Adjustment for age, sex, and systolic blood pressure or other risk factors had little effect on this relationship.


Hyperinsulinemia was related to the development of ST-T abnormalities in ECGs in the absence of the development of clinical signs of atherosclerosis, independent of blood pressure and other risk factors in men and women with mild glucose intolerance.

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