People with diabetes are no more likely to die or suffer heart problems after major surgery involving the blood vessels than people without the condition. Diabetes, in which a person either loses the ability to respond to the sugar-processing hormone insulin or doesn't produce the hormone at all, is a major risk factor for heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputations.
But Dr. Allan D. Hamdan and colleagues found that, though diabetes has been considered to be a risk factor for death or heart problems after major vascular surgery, it actually is not. He and his colleagues analyzed data on 7,122 major vascular procedures at a single hospital over a 13-year period. The procedures included surgery to restore blood flow in the legs, surgery on the carotid arteries in the neck, or surgery on the aorta, the body's main artery.
"We found that not only was diabetes not an independent predictor of poor outcomes, it was associated with decreased mortality," Hamdan told. "It's possible that because of their disease, diabetic patients were evaluated more aggressively preoperatively," he said. But the researchers did find that, overall, the patients with diabetes were more likely to die in the 5 years following the surgery than the non-diabetic individuals.