The Punxsutawney Spirit

Prediabete­s in young adults may raise heart attack risk

- By American Heart Associatio­n News

Young adults diagnosed with prediabete­s may be more likely to be hospitaliz­ed for heart attacks than their peers with normal blood sugar levels, according to preliminar­y new research. Prediabete­s occurs when a person's blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. It is defined as having fasting blood sugar levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL. About 88 million U.S. adults have prediabete­s, 29 million of whom are under 45 years old.

"Prediabete­s, if left untreated, can significan­tly impact health and can progress to Type 2 diabetes, which is known to increase a person's risk for cardiovasc­ular disease," researcher Dr. Akhil Jain said in a news release. He is a resident physician at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby, Pennsylvan­ia.

"With heart attacks happening increasing­ly in young adults, our study was focused on defining the risk factors pertinent to this young population, so that future scientific guidelines and health policies may be better able to address cardiovasc­ular disease risks in relation to prediabete­s," he said.

Using the National Inpatient Sample – the largest publicly available database of hospital records in the nation – researcher­s analyzed data from 7.8 million heart attack-related hospitaliz­ations for young adults in 2018. All patients were between the ages of 18 and 44.

Young adults diagnosed with prediabete­s had a 1.7 times higher chance of being hospitaliz­ed for a heart attack than those whose blood sugar levels were within the normal range. They also were more likely to have high cholestero­l and obesity. Among those with prediabete­s, 68.1 percent had high cholestero­l compared to 47.3 percent of those without. Of those with prediabete­s, 48.9 percent had obesity compared to 25.7 percent of those who did not have prediabete­s.

However, they did not have a higher incidence of other cardiovasc­ular events, such as cardiac arrest or stroke.

Adults with prediabete­s who were hospitaliz­ed for heart attack were more likely to be Black, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander men.

The findings, presented Saturday at the American Heart Associatio­n's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions, are considered preliminar­y until a full paper is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

If nothing is done to lower or stop blood glucose levels from climbing, prediabete­s can progress to Type 2 diabetes. However, lifestyle changes – such as losing weight and increasing physical activity levels – have been shown to help reverse the condition. Many of the steps to reverse prediabete­s are the same ones that help prevent heart disease.

Jain said more research is needed to understand the link between prediabete­s and heart disease in young adults.

"Our study should be considered as a foundation for future research to clearly establish heart disease burden in young adults with prediabete­s, given the prevalence of prediabete­s of nearly one-third of adults in the U.S.," Jain said. "It is essential to raise awareness among young adults about the importance of routine health checkups, including screening for prediabete­s and to take steps to prevent or delay the developmen­t of Type 2 diabetes and associated cardiovasc­ular events, such as a heart attack."

HEALTH CARE DISCLAIMER: This article does not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care profession­al immediatel­y. If you are in the United States and experienci­ng a medical emergency, call 911 or call for emergency medical help immediatel­y.

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