Abnormal low glucose levels in diabetics can harm the heart
Scientists from the University of Leicester demonstrated that, following hypoglycaemia, insulin-treated patients with diabetes had a 60 percent higher risk of cardiovascular events and were between 2-2.5 times more likely to die over the same period as patients who did not experience hypoglycaemia.
Researcher Kamlesh Khunti, who led the research, said that this is one of the first studies to report the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The risks are very significant and people need to identify these patients early with a view to implementing strategies to reduce their risk of hypoglycaemia.
Patients with diabetes are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease due to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels, which is a major cause of early death in these patients, and the results of the study show that hypoglycaemia, which occurs when a patient’s blood glucose becomes dangerously low, can trigger potentially fatal cardiovascular events.
Researcher Melanie Davies commented that the data from this important and large piece of research confirms what they already know in people with type 2 diabetes and extends their knowledge in those with type 1 diabetes.
Davies added that it also confirms the significance of hypoglycaemia and the link with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, a risk that persists over a long time period, and going forward they need to focus on management strategies that help patients minimise their risk of having hypoglycaemic events.
The findings of this investigation are a stark reminder of the challenges facing patients with diabetes and could lead to changes in the management of insulin-treated patients, particularly those at high risk of cardiovascular events.
The study is published online in the journal Diabetes Care on December 9.
Image: Getty Images