Diabetics with fluctuating blood sugar levels at higher risk of heart disease

Getting your blood sugar level under control before the doctor’s visit isn’t enough. You also need to avoid extreme fluctuations to safeguard your health.
diabetic foot
Diabetes can increase your risk of heart disease. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
ANI Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 03:49 pm IST
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There is more to diabetes than just excess glucose in the blood. Type-2 diabetes puts you at the risk of kidney damage, heart disease, nerve damage, and even Alzheimer’s disease—especially if you don’t get your blood sugar levels under control.

In fact, last study suggests that patients, who suffer from type 2 diabetes and experience extreme swings in their blood sugar levels, are at an increased risk of heart disease.

The study looked at more than 29,000 patients with type 2 diabetes over a two-year period. Patients who already had heart disease were excluded. The findings were published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.

Here’s why this diabetes study is important

The American Diabetes Association recommends adults with diabetes maintain an A1c (the average blood sugar level over the past two to three months) of less than 7% to reduce complications from diabetes, such as heart disease.

However, studies, including this one, have shown that wide swings in blood sugar levels may be a better predictor of diabetic complications than the A1c reading at any single doctor’s office visit.

“The underlying mechanism for the relationship between wide variations in blood sugar levels between doctor’s appointments and high risk of heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes is unclear,” said Gang Hu, MD, PhD, Associate Professor and Director, Chronic Disease Epidemiology Lab at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

“It’s possible that episodes of severely low blood sugar may be the connection,” added Dr Hu.Research has shown that wide variations in blood sugar levels are associated with poor health outcomes and even death. A 2017 Johns Hopkins study found that one-third of people with diabetes hospitalised for a severe low blood sugar episode died within three years of the incident.

“We recommend that patients and their doctors implement therapies that can reduce wide swings in blood sugar levels and the associated episodes of severe low blood sugar,” said Dr Hu.

“Our findings suggest that measuring the swings in blood haemoglobin A1c levels over a specific time – six months to a year, for example – could serve as a supplemental blood sugar target,” he concluded.

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