Prediabetes is a diagnosis that many people dismiss. The condition occurs when blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be determined as type 2 diabetes.
Because the patient is under the threshold to be considered a type 2 diabetic, they often believe that they don’t need to take action until they receive a diabetes diagnosis. But new evidence shows that prediabetes is not something that should be dismissed.
Although this new research is considered preliminary and has yet to be published, it raises awareness of the possible increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious heart problems that may arise in people with prediabetes.
“In general, we tend to treat prediabetes as no big deal. But we found that prediabetes itself can significantly boost someone’s chance of having a major cardiovascular event, even if they never progress to having diabetes,” said lead author Dr. Adrian Michel.
The study, which is scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology later this month, analyzed data from nearly 25,000 patients treated by the Beaumont Health System between 2006 and 2020. The researchers wanted to be clear about the link between type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular events and how it was associated with prediabetes.
Over the average five-year follow-up, cardiac events occurred in 18% of patients with prediabetes compared with 11% of patients with normal blood sugar levels. The link between prediabetes and cardiovascular events remained significant even after other factors were accounted for. These events included age, gender, body fat, blood pressure, cholesterol, tobacco use, sleep apnea, and peripheral artery disease.
Double the Risk
Researchers were able to conclude that having prediabetes nearly doubled the chance of a major adverse cardiovascular event based on the data. This accounts for approximately 1 out of 4 deaths in the U.S.
This study shows the importance of patients understanding a diagnosis of prediabetes. There is a need for clinicians to educate their patients about the heart-related risks associated with elevated blood sugar levels.
Patients should be told about the lifestyle changes that are available to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke, including exercise and diet. It is also essential to educate patients on the disease itself by helping them understand that it is a condition caused by lifestyle choices, and it can be reversed.