Younger People With Diabetes Have 7 Times Greater Risk of Sudden Heart Death

From Drugs.com - November 13, 2017

Younger People With Diabetes Have 7 Times Greater Risk of Sudden Heart Death

MONDAY, Nov. 13, 2017 -- People younger than 50 with diabetes have a seven-times higher risk of dying from sudden cardiac death, preliminary research suggests.

And their risk of dying from any kind of heart disease is eight times higher than for those without diabetes, the long-term Danish study also found.

"It is important that healthcare providers are aware that young patients with diabetes have an elevated risk of mortality and that this is mainly explained by an increased risk of sudden cardiac death," said the study's lead author Jesper Svane, a medical student at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

Sudden cardiac death is caused by malfunctions in the heart's electrical system. It often occurs without warning, according to the American Heart Association.

Dr. James Catanese, chief of cardiology at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y., said he was not surprised to see the link between diabetes and heart disease deaths.

"What was surprising was the amount of increased risk -- a 7 or 8 times higher risk is astounding, particularly in people below age 50," added Catanese, who was not involved in the study.

The 10-year study included health information from all Danes between 1 and 35 years old in 2000-2009 and from those 36 to 49 years old in 2007-2009.

Of more than 14,000 people who died, 5 percent had diabetes, according to the study. Almost 500 of them had type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease. And nearly 200 who died had type 2 diabetes, which is the more common form of the disease and it's generally linked to excess weight.

Overall, the researchers found, people with diabetes had a five times higher mortality rate than people without diabetes.

More specifically, they found, death from heart disease was five times higher in people with type 2 diabetes, and 12 times higher in people with type 1 diabetes. Svane said this may be because type 1 is often diagnosed in childhood, so patients have the disease for a longer period of time.

The research could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, only an association, Svane explained.

But what might cause this association between diabetes and the risk of heart disease?

"Fluctuating blood sugars, abnormal cholesterol and high triglycerides, which are present in many persons with diabetes mellitus, increases the risk of [hardening of the arteries] and coronary heart disease," he noted. This eventually increases the risk of sudden cardiac death or heart failure, he explained.


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