Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and nearly 20 percent of men between age 60 and 79 have it, according to the American Heart Association.

What many of these men don't realize is that insulin resistance-an often misdiagnosed, under-recognized syndrome-is the leading cause of pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

When a person has insulin resistance, the cells do not respond to insulin so the body has to make greater and greater amounts of it to help glucose enter the cells.

"The problem in many situations is that patients very often see diabetes as something that you wake up with one day and you have it," said Dr. Regina Druz, a cardiologist and internist in Mineola, New York.

The reality, however, is that men can have insulin resistance 20 years before they're even diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

"It silently inflames the arteries without the individual knowing it," said Dr. Amy Doneen, medical director for the Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center in Spokane, Washington and an adjunct professor for Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.

Eighty-six million people have insulin resistance and more than 70 percent of those who have heart attacks also have insulin resistance.

Diabetes is responsible for 12 percent of deaths, which more than previously thought, according to a recent study in the journal PLOS One.