'Pre-diabetics' face heightened risk of heart disease

March 3, 2009

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, was led by Jill P. Crandall, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine and director of the Diabetes Clinical Trials Unit at Einstein.

Diabetes becomes increasingly common with age. An estimated 37 million Americans over the age of 65 have diabetes, almost one-quarter of that population. Another 20 to 30 percent of seniors, an estimated 7.5 to 11.1 million, are not clinically diabetic but have impaired glucose tolerance, which is considered a form of "pre-diabetes."

"In most cases, this mild form of high blood glucose causes no symptoms and is often overlooked by both doctors and patients, but studies have shown that it may be associated with increased risk of heart disease," says Dr. Crandall. "The purpose of this study was to explore the cardiovascular risk profile of older adults with pre-diabetes."

The study looked at 58 older adults with an average age of 71, half with normal glucose tolerance and half with post-challenge hyperglycemia (PCH). PCH is characterized by a temporary spike in blood glucose levels that occurs immediately after a meal. Various measures were taken before and after study participants consumed a standard high carbohydrate meal.

The researchers found that the adults with PCH not only had higher glucose and insulin levels after the meal, but also higher levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat considered an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease). They also had higher levels of a protein that promotes blood clotting, and more inflammation of blood vessels, compared to controls. In addition, a test of blood vessel function after the meal showed impairment only in the PCH group. Studies show that increases in each of these measures raise one's risk for heart disease.

Routine glucose screening of the elderly, using the standard oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), could be used to identify these high-risk individuals, the researchers note. The OGTT measures the body's ability to use glucose, the body's main source of energy. The test begins with a measure of one's fasting blood glucose level, providing a baseline for comparing other glucose values. The patient then drinks a sweet liquid containing a specific amount of glucose. Blood samples are collected at several intervals over the next two or three hours.

Despite the results of this study, it has not been established whether treatment aimed at reducing mild hyperglycemia will lower their risk for heart disease. "Consequently, other interventions designed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including the use of statins and aspirin, should be strongly considered for older adults with PCH," says Dr. Crandall.

More information: The study, "Post-challenge Hyperglycemia in Older Adults is Associated with Increased Cardiovascular Risk Profile," was published in the February 10 online version of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Source: Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Explore further: The truth about the war on wheat

Related Stories

The truth about the war on wheat

October 3, 2014

If you believe the best-seller lists, the biggest bad in the supermarket aisles is not fat or sodium or sugar, but wheat. We have been warned that eating wheat makes our bellies fatter and triggers diseases ranging from diabetes ...

Researchers discuss sugar's highs, lows

March 24, 2011

America's growing sweet tooth is super-sizing waistlines and the nation's health care price tag, warn University of California researchers. People in the U.S. are eating 21 times more sweet stuff today than the pilgrims and ...

Component in common dairy foods may cut diabetes risk

December 20, 2010

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and collaborators from other institutions have identified a natural substance in dairy fat that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The compound, ...

Study finds watermelon lowers blood pressure

October 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- No matter how you slice it, watermelon has a lot going for it –– sweet, low calorie, high fiber, nutrient rich –– and now, there’s more. Evidence from a pilot study led by food scientists ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.