Researchers who conducted recent research on the link between heart disease and diabetes said the link between the two diseases was not surprising. But they didn’t think that many people with slightly high blood sugar levels also had a greater risk of heart disease.
Public health researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine studied the records of 420,000 people enrolled in the UK’s Biobank, which stores biomedical data such as scans and blood tests.
The researchers selected people who were enrolled between 2006 and 2010 and, most importantly, included those with no history of heart disease. They then tracked the results of medical examinations in that group over 15 years.
The study’s senior author, Dr. Christopher Rentsch said the Biobank information was important because the participants’ blood sugar levels were measured when the person’s health data was updated.
Rentsch said blood sugar levels varied, based on what was eaten in a day.
But in this study the researchers looked at glycated hemoglobin, hBA1c, the amount of sugar attached to hemoglobin, or red blood cells. If the body cannot use sugar properly, it will accumulate in the cells.
Rentsch said, “What we found was that the risk of heart disease was present in those who had very high blood sugar levels, the typical number used to define diabetes, also in men and women with blood sugar levels below the typical threshold for diabetes.”
According to the study, men who are prediabetic (blood sugar levels below the threshold for diabetes) are 30% more at risk of heart disease. For those with diabetes, the risk rises to 50%.
For women, the results are much worse. Those who do not suffer from diabetes but have high blood sugar levels are 50% more at risk of heart disease. In those who already have diabetes, the risk rises to 100%.
According to Rentsch, the researchers also found that women were less likely to get prescription drugs, such as statins, as a preventative measure.
According to Rentsch, the research also shows women in the UK need to be more aware of the dangers of obesity to diseases other than diabetes and doctors need to be more proactive in prescribing drugs.
It explained, “We found that there were four factors that explained the greatest variation between men and women in the association between blood sugar and heart disease.”
The first two, said Rentsch, are obesity measurements, namely the body mass index, and the ratio of waist-hip circumference. The other two are the use of preventive drugs such as statins and antihypertensive drugs.
In the study sample, it was found that women with various blood sugar levels were more obese and had a larger waist-to-hip ratio than men. Meanwhile, the use of preventive drugs was lower in women at all blood sugar levels. ar.”
Rentsch said research shows that blood sugar levels that are currently considered low do not necessarily protect against heart disease. Because of that, explained Rentsch, the next stage of research is to study how blood sugar levels can affect the risk of heart disease. (uh/ab)