By adding HbA1c test results to the patient data, which also included levels of cholesterol and C-reactive protein, the researchers said they were able to more accurately predict the risk of cardiovascular disease in the diabetic patients.
They found that 71.9 percent of diabetic women had less than a 20 percent risk of cardiovascular disease over 10 years, while only 24.5 percent of the men had a similarly low risk.
This difference may be partly explained by the increased risk for cardiovascular disease that accompanies age, and the delayed risk in women, the researchers said.
Noting further research is needed to confirm the findings, they noted the prediction improvement was better in low-risk groups.
Paynter also said the test might help people without diabetes evaluate their cardiovascular risk.
Dr. Mark J. Pletcher, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of an accompanying journal editorial, doesn't think predicting individual risk of cardiovascular disease will change current treatment of diabetic patients.
"Even though the risk estimation may be more accurate, it still may be a better decision to put them on cholesterol-lowering drugs, because of long-term risk of heart disease," he said.
Pletcher said in his own clinical practice he will continue to treat diabetics aggressively.
"Risk prediction for risk prediction's sake is not really that useful an exercise," Pletcher said. "It's only useful if it informs a clinical decision. And when you are not going to change a decision, as I don't think I will, then I don't think it's worth that much to refine risk estimation."
For more information on diabetes, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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