Earlier screen for diabetes to prevent heart disease

Type 2 diabetes is associated with early-onset heart disease. 50% of patients diagnosed with diabetes already have coronary heart disease. Type 2 diabetes is also commonly associated with blindness, amputation and kidney failure due to microvascular impairment.

Type 2 diabetes is normally detected by testing for high blood sugar levels, which is a symptom of the condition. Research in Experimental Physiology suggests that testing for insulin resistance, a measure how responsive the body is to insulin, can be used for early detection of the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes and treat the progression of heart disease. By identifying pre-Type 2 diabetes even earlier, action can be taken before these patients potentially develop cardiovascular disease.

The researchers at Wheaton College in the USA studied 22 young, healthy, college-aged students (split equally between males and females) and measured how responsive their microvasculature (or small blood vessels) was to changes in blood flow. They also measured their insulin resistance by measuring both insulin and glucose during an oral glucose tolerance test. 

Commenting on the study, an author Dana K Townsend said:

“Identifying Type 2 diabetes earlier, during insulin resistance but before high blood sugar could be potentially life-saving and improve quality of life by allowing for pre-emptive measures to be put into place before patients develop cardiovascular disease.”  

Notes for Editors

  1. Reduced Insulin Sensitivity in Young, Normoglycemic Subjects Alters Microvascular Tissue Oxygenation During Post Occlusive Reactive Hyperemia https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/EP087216 (link will only work after the embargo date. Before then, please email the press office for a copy of the paper)
  2. Experimental Physiology publishes advances in physiology which increase our understanding of how our bodies function in health and disease. http://ep.physoc.org
  3. The Physiological Society brings together over 3,500 scientists from over 60 countries. The Society promotes physiology with the public and parliament alike. It supports physiologists by organising world-class conferences and offering grants for research and also publishes the latest developments in the field in its three leading scientific journals, The Journal of Physiology, Experimental Physiology and Physiological Reports. www.physoc.org


The Physiological Society: 

Julia Turan, Communications Manager


+44 (0)20 7269 5727  

Corresponding author:

Dana K Townsend

Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL


+1(630)752 9999