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Blood Test May Better Predict Diabetics' Heart Risk: Study
Date:7/26/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- A standard test used to measure blood sugar levels in people with diabetes could also help predict their risk of cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.

The test -- which measures levels of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) in blood -- enables doctors to assess how well their diabetic patients' blood sugar is controlled over several months. Diabetes is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but the degree of risk may differ in individuals, the researchers explained.

"It is possible that identification of people with [type 2] diabetes who have a low estimated 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease may be useful in making treatment decisions," said lead researcher Nina P. Paynter, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Usually, all diabetics are considered at high risk for cardiovascular disease and they are often treated aggressively with cholesterol-lowering drugs and blood pressure medications to help reduce the risk.

But many of them might be at substantially lower risk and not need such aggressive therapy, the authors said.

"Some people with diabetes have an estimated 10-year cardiovascular risk lower than 20 percent, especially in populations with a low overall risk of cardiovascular disease," Paynter said.

The report was published online July 25 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

For the study, Paynter's team collected data on 24,674 women and 11,280 men who took part in the Women's Health Study and the Physician's Health Study II.

Both studies collected data on the participants' HbA1c levels. The men were followed for a median of 11.8 years and the women for 10.2 years, the researchers noted.

Over that period, 125 of the 685 women with type 2 diabetes had a heart attack or stroke as did 170 of the 563 diabetic men. Among participants without diab
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