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Insulin resistance and reactive hyperinsulinemia occur not only with obesity, impaired glucose tolerance or non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes mellitus, but also in many non-obese, non-diabetic patients with essential hypertension and their currently normotensive, lean, young offspring, as well as in some other conditions known to promote hypertension. Insulin resistance impairs glucose tolerance, while insulin resistance and/or hyperinsulinemia promote dyslipidemia, body fat deposition and probably atherogenesis. Therefore, the common coexistence of a genetic predisposition for hypertension with insulin resistance helps to explain the frequent, although temporally often dissociated, occurrence of hypertension together with dyslipidemia, obesity and type 2 diabetes in a given patient.In the pathogenesis of hypertension, inappropriate vasoconstriction (due to an imbalance of vasoactive substances and/or raised cytosolic calcium) and/or structural vasculopathy is particularly important. Among the mosaic of assumed pressor mechanisms, distinct Na+ retention is almost invariably involved in diabetes mellitus, while sympathetic activation tends to occur in essential hypertension, particularly in association with obesity.Insulin resistance may develop as a consequence of an intracellular excess of Ca2+ or a decrease in Mg2+, an impaired insulin-mediated rise in skeletal muscle blood flow, increased sympathetic activity or excess body weight. Acute hyperinsulinemia causes arterial vasodilation on one hand and increases sympathetic activity and renal Na+ reabsorption on the other. Chronically, hyperinsulinemia may promote cardiovascular muscle cell proliferation and atherogenesis, while insulin resistance may be associated with certain transmembraneous cation transporters, leading to an increase in cytosolic Ca2+. Hyperinsulinemia and/or insulin resistance may also be associated with an increased blood pressure sensitivity to high salt intake. In the mosaic of many different blood pressure-raising mechanisms, insulin resistance and/or hyperinsulinemia is likely to represent an amplifying slow or very slow pressor factor.