If you have diabetes, you are at much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart attack or stroke. Doctors have long recognized this connection between the diabetes and heart disease.
But new research now indicates that the opposite may also be true – if you have heart disease, you may also be at much higher risk of developing diabetes.
Diabetes is the condition that results when excess sugar, also known as glucose, accumulates in the blood. This sugar can damage blood vessels throughout the body, and particularly in the heart and brain. This increases the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
The American Diabetes Association reports that people with diabetes are at least twice as likely as people without the condition to develop heart disease or have a stroke. And two out of three people who have diabetes die as a result of cardiovascular disease.
But until recently, little study had been done to see if the reverse relationship was also true.
Christoph Saely, MD from the Academic Teaching Hospital in Feldkirch, Austria discussed the results of his study at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. Saely explained that patients with more extensive heart disease appear to have a 33 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than patients without a coronary artery disease.
During the seven-and-a-half-year study, researchers tracked 506 patients who had heart disease, determined by coronary angiography, but did not have diabetes. Over 26 percent of those with severe heart disease went on to develop diabetes during the study period, compared with just over 16 percent of those with less severe heart disease.
The research team also observed that patients with a combination of heart disease and metabolic syndrome had an 88 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. Most notable of those were patients with high triglycerides who had a 29 percent higher risk.
The researchers did not suggest that heart disease caused diabetes, but noted that the presence of cardiovascular disease may be a valuable warning sign for potential risk.