"It may be that in diabetic patients without any symptoms of heart disease, their BMI could be used to determine if they need a CT scan to screen for plaque buildup," said Muhlestein. "We could then develop a treatment plan for at-risk patients.
Findings from the study may also change the way diabetic patients are treated. Current diabetic management strategies include three options:
When patients are treated with insulin therapy and injections, they commonly experience weight gain. "When you provide more insulin, it's associated in almost every study with increased weight gain," said Dr. Muhlestein.
While weight gain does not necessarily predict heart disease in non-diabetics, the findings of this study shows that weight gain in diabetics can indicate the buildup of plaque. This is significant because the degree of weight gain can be reduced by using other types of diabetic treatments, such as insulin sensitizing medication.
"Based on the findings of this study, choosing insulin sensitizing therapy, as the primary management strategy in diabetic patients may be beneficial by reducing the tendency towards elevated BMI's, said Dr. Muhlestein.
Not only will the results of this study help researchers better understand which treatments will reduce weight gain, but they will also help researchers predict who will get heart disease which will help physicians offer better long-term diabetic treatments to their patients.
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Intermountain Medical Center