Prediabetes: A warning sign to take steps to reduce heart disease risk

A new study is adding to the body of evidence that steering clear of diabetes will reduce an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease

A new study is adding to the body of evidence showing that steering clear of diabetes will reduce an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine analyzed observational studies from both white and black men and women followed from 1960 through 2015 to determine the absolute risk or probability of developing heart disease for individuals with prediabetic levels of blood glucose (fasting blood glucose level between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL).

Results of the study, published in Diabetes Care, found that the risk for CVD ranged from 15% (nondiabetic) to 38% (diabetic) among women, and from 21% (nondiabetic) to 47% (diabetic) for men. Increases in glucose to the diabetic level during mid-life—beginning at age 55 through 85—were associated with substantially higher cardiovascular risk than when glucose levels stayed below the diabetes threshold.

"Although we found that individuals who had prediabetic levels of blood glucose did not have a higher absolute risk for cardiovascular disease, we know that most people go on to develop diabetes unless they take measures to reduce their blood sugar levels," said the study's lead author, Michael P. Bancks, PhD, in a news release.

"Prediabetes should serve as a red flag to doctors to closely monitor their patient's blood sugar to try to prevent diabetes through lifestyle interventions like better diet and increased physical activity, and if necessary, with pharmacologic therapies,” he said.

The research sample included 19,630 individuals who had not had a prior CVD event, which for this study was defined as either heart disease or stroke.