Researchers Study the Connection Between Diabetes and Heart Disease
Diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, are often associated with other potential medical problems, such as heart disease, kidney failure, and loss of vision. However, many do not realize that those who are on the brink of developing diabetes also have an increased risk of health issues. Pre-diabetes is a medical stage that comes before diabetes, marked by a higher blood glucose level than normal, following a fasting period. Typically, the fasting period is defined as being 12 hours long. Before 2003, pre-diabetes was defined as having a fasting blood glucose level between 110 and 125 mg/dl, rather than the average level—between 70.2 and 100 mg/dl. As of 2003, though, the American Diabetes Association has set the pre-diabetes level to be between 100 and 125 mg/dl. Although this might not seem like a huge difference, it makes all the difference regarding a study conducted several years ago.
The study was based on the pre-2003 definition of pre-diabetes. It was comprised of several trials. Over 750,000 individuals participated in the testing, providing the research team with a significant amount of data. From these results, they concluded that, using the old definition of pre-diabetes, individuals were as much as 21 percent more likely to have a stroke than those with lower fasting blood glucose levels. A discrepancy, though, appears when applying the newer definition of pre-diabetes to the study. In fact, with the newer definition, there is no observable increase in risk. The team says this suggests that the increased risk of stroke begins at the 110 mg/dl level.
Some of the researchers state that the results may not be completely accurate, as the study did not really account for the many other aspects that could factor into an increased risk for stroke, such as diet and lifestyle choices. Additionally, the some of the data gathered during the study may be suspect and unreliable.
Other experts use the study as an example of what the medical community should be striving to do: Ask questions and look for the solutions, even if the question isn’t directly related to the main issue. The results could provide insight into a facet of the problem that had, as of yet, been overlooked. They urge researchers to think outside the box and look at every angle, making conclusions along the way that could help the field of medicine, particularly the area of medicine focused on diabetes.
Despite the potentially questionable results, the team concluded that those with fasting blood glucose levels matching the old definition of pre-diabetes are at a higher risk of stroke. They do not, however, provide a specific statistic as to how much more likely. The team also urges those with pre-diabetes to learn about the risks of their condition, as well as ways to fix the problem. These include adjusting one’s diet and changing one’s lifestyle to a more active one. A major area of focus for these individuals should be bringing down their weight to a healthier level. This, they say, should alleviate the issue of a high blood glucose level.