Pre-diabetes nearly DOUBLES the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, study finds

Pre-diabetes nearly DOUBLES the risk of having a heart attack or stroke because high blood sugar damages the arteries, study finds

  • Pre-diabetes is when sugar levels are high but not as high as type 2 diabetes
  • It is common and thought to affect a third of adults in the US and 7million Brits  
  • And now a study suggests sufferers face a higher risk of severe heart problems
  • Pre-diabetes almost doubles a patient’s risk of suffering a heart attack and increases their risk of strokes, according to a study.

    The condition is diagnosed when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but the body is still able to control them. Although concerning, doctors tend to treat this as ‘no big deal’.

    But now a study carried out on 25,000 patients, half of which had pre-diabetes, has revealed these patients also face a heightened risk of adverse events.

    Beaumont Hospital, Michigan researchers behind the paper said it should serve as a ‘wake up call’ for medics, and called for more focus on treatment to prevent the condition.

    More than seven million people have pre-diabetes in the UK, although charities say this number may be higher as the condition is often not diagnosed. In the US 88million people – or one in three adults – have the condition.

    Pre-diabetes is diagnosed when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but still too low to be type 2 diabetes. A study suggests the condition can lead to serious cardiovascular events


    Type 2 diabetes is a condition which causes a person’s blood sugar to get too high.

    More than 4million people in the UK are thought to have some form of diabetes.

    Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and you may be more likely to get it if it’s in the family.

    The condition means the body does not react properly to insulin – the hormone which controls absorption of sugar into the blood – and cannot properly regulate sugar glucose levels in the blood.

    Excess fat in the liver increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as the buildup makes it harder to control glucose levels, and also makes the body more resistant to insulin. 

    Weight loss is the key to reducing liver fat and getting symptoms under control.

    Symptoms include tiredness, feeling thirsty, and frequent urination.

    It can lead to more serious problems with nerves, vision and the heart.

    Treatment usually involves changing your diet and lifestyle, but more serious cases may require medication.

    Source: NHS Choices;

    In the study scientists followed patients who had either pre-diabetes or normal blood sugar levels between the ages of 18 and 104 for 14 years.

    They found 18 per cent of those with the condition suffered serious cardiovascular events such as a heart attack during this time.

    But only 11 per cent faced this among those who had normal blood sugar.

    They also found those with pre-diabetes were significantly more likely to suffer a stroke or other major cardiovascular event.

    Even when the condition was reversed, previous sufferers still had a higher risk of suffering a heart attack.

    Results showed 10.5 per cent of former patients faced a serious cardiovascular event, compared to six per cent of those who had normal blood sugar levels.  

    ‘Based on our data, having pre-diabetes nearly doubled the chance of a major adverse cardiovascular event, which accounts for one of four deaths in the US,’ said Adrian Michel, a medicine expert at Beaumont Hospital who led the study.

    ‘As clinicians, we need to spend more time educating our patients about the risk of elevated blood sugar levels and what it means for their heart health and consider starting medication much earlier or more aggressively.

    ‘And advising on risk factor modification, including advice on exercise and adopting a healthy diet.’

    He added: ‘In general, we tend to treat pre-diabetes as no big deal.

    ‘But we found that pre-diabetes itself can significantly boost someone’s chance of having a major cardiovascular event, even if they never progress to having diabetes.’ 

    People can be pre-diabetic when they have high blood sugar but their body is still able to control it.

    More than one in three adults (35 per cent) are thought to have prediabetes, according to a study by the University of Florida in 2014.


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