DALLAS Researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, in collaboration with researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health, have discovered a simple way to further predict a diabetic patient's risk for heart disease: by measuring their body mass index or BMI.
The Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute study is part of a larger study called faCTor-64, which is a landmark, randomized trial designed to determine if using CT scans to screen for heart disease in diabetic patients who don't have heart disease symptoms can help save lives.
As Intermountain researchers measured coronary artery plaque buildup in study participants, they discovered that a major controllable predictor of heart disease was BMI. Simply put: the greater the patient's BMI, the greater their risk for heart disease.
Researchers will present this study at the 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Dallas, on Nov. 17 at 10 am, ET.
"Our study shows there's a strong linear relationship between BMI and plaque volume and composition," said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, lead researcher and co-director of cardiovascular research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah. "So even being a little overweight is associated with more plaque, while being obese is associated with a lot of plaque."
Researchers say the findings are significant because heart disease causes about 75% of deaths in patients who have diabetes, but not everyone has obvious risk factors, such as smoking, high glucose levels, high cholesterol levels, or high blood pressure.
Patients with obvious risk factors can be treated, but for the patients who don't have obvious risk factors, their first indictor of heart disease is often in the form of a heart attack or stroke or even death.
Current methods to measure plaque buildup are invasive and costly, and are not used to screen
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Intermountain Medical Center