Research Article

Disturbances of insulin in British Asian and white men surviving myocardial infarction.

BMJ 1989; 299 doi: (Published 26 August 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;299:537
  1. L. O. Hughes,
  2. J. K. Cruickshank,
  3. J. Wright,
  4. E. B. Raftery
  1. Department of Cardiology, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex.


    OBJECTIVE--To examine the role of insulin as a cardiovascular risk factor in British Asian and white men. DESIGN--Case-controlled study of survivors of first myocardial infarction. SETTING--District general hospital. PATIENTS--Consecutive series of 76 white and 74 Asian men who survived first myocardial infarction compared with 58 white and 61 Asian male controls without coronary artery disease who were randomly sampled from the community. RESULTS--More Asians than white subjects had impaired glucose tolerance or overt diabetes as measured by the two hour glucose tolerance test (23/74 (32%) v 11/76 (15%) (p less than 0.001) among patients; 17/61 (28%) v 3/58 (6%) (p less than 0.001) among controls). Insulin and C peptide concentrations were higher in both patient groups than in respective controls (p less than 0.001) and higher in Asian than in white subjects, irrespective of their glucose tolerance. Triglyceride concentrations were higher in patients than in controls (1.92 (SD 1.05) v 1.43 (0.82) mmol/l among Asian men; 1.65 (0.83) v 1.3 (0.61) mmol/l among white subjects; p less than 0.001). Total cholesterol concentrations were lower in both groups of Asians than in respective white subjects (5.78 (0.99) v 6.22 (1.04) mmol/l (p less than 0.01) among patients; 5.54 (1.01) v 5.65 (1.11) mmol/l (p less than 0.6) among controls). High density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations were lower in Asian than in white subjects. The ratio of total cholesterol to high density lipoprotein cholesterol was significantly higher (p less than 0.001) in both patient groups (6.69 (1.81) in Asian patients and 6.31 (1.91) in white patients) than in respective controls (5.24 (1.19) and 4.77 (1.43)). Regression analysis identified C peptide concentration and the ratio of total to high density lipoprotein cholesterol as powerful independent predictors of myocardial infarction in Asian and white men. Total cholesterol concentration predicted infarction in white but not in Asian men. CONCLUSIONS--Secretion and hepatic extraction of insulin are high in survivors of myocardial infarction and especially high in British Asians. Tissue resistance to the action of insulin, giving rise to increased pancreatic secretion, may be an important risk factor for coronary artery disease in both ethnic groups and may be partly responsible for the high incidence of diabetes and coronary artery disease in Asian populations.