That diabetes is bad news for the heart is well known. But what is not is that even during the run up to it one could face serious challenges. While diabetes could lead to blindness, limb loss, severe heart disease and early death, a new Australian study says that people displaying merely the earliest signs of diabetes, a condition known as pre-diabetes, are more than twice as likely to die of cardiovascular disease after five years.
Researchers at the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne say their findings add strength to the argument that pre-diabetics should be treated with diabetes drugs before they even develop the disease. "If their risk of heart disease is this high before they even have get diabetes, it makes sense to try to divert the full impact in advance,'' said institute director Professor Paul Zimmet.
One in five Australians have pre-diabetes, which means they have trouble metabolizing sugar.
Prof Zimmet and his team studied 10,429 Australians age 25 or older for five years as part of the world's largest diabetes study AusDiab.
They found that diabetes and pre-diabetes accounted for 65 per cent of all heart disease deaths in the group. Participants considered pre-diabetic had a 2.5 times higher risk of death from heart problems than those who metabolised glucose normally.
In fact, their increased risk was almost on par with diabetics, according to the study published in the journal Circulation. "The five-year risk of cardiac mortality was 2.6 times higher among people who had diabetes and was 2.5 times higher in those with impaired fasting glucose,'' wrote lead author and epidemiologist Elizabeth Barr.
"This study confirms the clinical importance of pre-diabetes, and suggests the need to target glucose abnormalities with lifestyle interventions.'' Studies have shown that diet and exercise can help pre-diabetics avoid diabetes, which is emerging as an epidemic worldwide.
The findings follow other major diabetes studies released this week.
Canadian researchers found that Type Two diabetics had double the risk of having a stroke in the first five years of diagnosis.