Insights on Diabetes and Heart Disease

Written by Paul Wolf

Depression and high blood pressure are more likely predictors of heart disease in diabetics than unstable blood sugar.

While the medical community has long considered a patient's blood sugar level to be the predictor of heart disease, the more accurate predictors are depression and hypertension, according to the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health.

A new study has removed the link between blood sugar and heart disease.
Depression, hypertension are true predictors of heart disease.
Treating blood sugar problems is still essential.

That is the surprising finding of a study published in Atherosclerosis. The study, which reviewed 658 cases of Type 1 diabetes, was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Trevor J. Orchard, the principal investigator, said the patient records spanning a decade show depression and blood pressure are decisive factors.

"Blood sugar still needs to be treated aggressively, as eye, kidney and nerve problems can result from the blood sugar problems that are part of diabetes," said Orchard, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Depression is emerging as a risk factor for heart disease, and high blood pressure has been established as one. Diabetic patients suffer from both conditions at a much higher rate than the general population.

"We are surprised to find no relationship between high glycemic levels and (coronary heart disease)," Orchard said.

He noted, however, that a connection has been established between high blood sugar and lower extremity arterial disease.

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