NEW YORK, (DNA) – For people who already have cardiovascular problems, having high blood sugar below the cutoff for diabetes diagnosis doesn’t raise the risk of potentially fatal heart “events,” a recent study suggests. Diabetes has long been linked to an increased risk of coronary artery disease as well as higher odds of heart attacks, cardiac arrest and what’s known as unstable angina, when plaque in the arteries ruptures and blocks the blood supply to the heart. Research has been mixed, however, on whether slightly elevated blood sugar that is sometimes called “pre-diabetes” might also increase the risk of these heart issues.
For the current study, researchers examined data on patients already hospitalized for heart attacks or other serious problems that occur when the blood supply to the heart is suddenly blocked. This included 162 people with normal blood sugar, 202 individuals with slightly elevated blood sugar and 183 diabetics.
Compared to people with normal blood sugar, patients with diabetes were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or other serious blockage over three years of follow-up. People with elevated blood sugar, but not at diabetic levels, had a slightly higher risk of these heart problems, but the difference was too small to rule out the possibility that it was due to chance.
“Those with pre-diabetes may be at higher risk for coronary artery disease, but not as high as those with diabetes,” said Dr. R. Brandon Stacey of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.