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Sudden Cardiac Death: Diabetes May Be The Culprit

Recent research highlights diabetes as a strong risk factor for sudden cardiac death, with the risk increasing with the severity of the disease.//

The authors writing in the October issue of the European Heart Journal, assert that the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in industrialized countries is rapidly increasing, and diabetes is suspected to carry a particular high risk for sudden cardiac death.

The authors examined the association between blood sugar level, diabetes and the risk of sudden cardiac death among individuals enrolled in the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound.

The study included 2,040 subjects who experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest between 1980 and 1994. They were compared with 3,800 control subjects, derived from a random sample of enrollees.

Diabetes status was classified into four exclusive groups: no diabetes, borderline diabetes, diabetes without microvascular disease (retinopathy or proteinuria), and diabetes with microvascular disease.

After accounting for potential contributing factors, the authors observed progressively higher risk of sudden cardiac death associated with borderline diabetes, diabetes without microvascular disease, and diabetes with microvascular disease as compared to no diabetes Higher glucose levels were also associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death both in the absence and in the presence of microvascular disease.

The authors conclude that these results emphasize the role of diabetes as a strong risk factor for sudden cardiac death and outline the importance of glucose level at every stage of diabetes severity.

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