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Diabetes doubles risk of heart attack and/or stroke

By Joan Firstenberg     Jun 25, 2010 in Health
A new study reveals that diabetes' sufferers have double the risk of developing serious blood vessel diseases and life-threatening events like strokes and heart attacks.
Doctors say the British study, recently published in The Lancet, emphasizes the overall need for increased efforts to prevent diabetes in the first place. WebMD reports that 700,000 people were part of the study by British scientists, each of whom were monitored for 10 years in 102 surveys in 25 countries.
The study results are currently being presented at the American Diabetes Association's 70th annual scientific session now going on in Orlando, Florida.
A finding that surprised the doctors was that only a tiny part of the effects of diabetes on heart disease and stroke are explainable by blood fats, blood pressure and obesity.
The key findings of the study were that blood glucose levels along should not be used to identify people with diabetes who have an increased risk of heart disease or stroke. Next, diabetes is likely to cause damage to the body not just with obesity, blood fats and blood pressure. Another finding is that higher than average fasting blood glucose levels are only somewhat related to the development of heart attacks or strokes.
Nadeem Sarwar, PhD, of the University of Cambridge, Put out a news release,
"Our findings highlight the need for better prevention of diabetes coupled with greater investigation of the mechanisms by which diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Information on age, sex, smoking habits, blood pressure and blood fats is routinely collected to assess risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Our findings indicate that adding information on fasting blood glucose levels in people without diabetes does not provide significant extra help in assessing cardiovascular risk."
Hertzel C. Gerstein, MD, MSc, FRCPC, of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario, Canada, advises that
"Large long-term clinical trials of insulin-replacement therapy, incretins [hormones that increase insulin output] and other approaches targeting one or more of these abnormalities that are either underway or about to start are certain to shed more light on the link between dysglycemia and serious outcomes."
Dysglycemia is a disorder of blood sugar metabolism.
The study was supported by the British Heart Foundation, the UK Medical Research Council, and Pfizer Pharmaceutical.
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