Washington: A study has found that a common test may be useful in predicting early death in individuals with diabetes.The findings made by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center showed that people with diabetes were also at an increased risk of developing heart and vascular disease."People with diabetes are already at high risk of developing heart disease and experiencing an early death," Donald W. Bowden, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Diabetes Research at Wake Forest Baptist and lead investigator, said."With this study, we`ve discovered that we can identify a subset of individuals within this high risk group who are at even higher risk, and the means to do this is already widely available in the form of a computed tomography (CT) scan - a relatively inexpensive and non-invasive test," he explained.
The score provides a measure of how much coronary artery disease, or calcified "plaque" is present in the blood vessels of the heart.Plaque plays a major role in heart attacks and other vascular events and can be measured by taking a special "gated" CT scan which, in comparison to typical CT scans, uses very few X-rays, does not require any injections and generally takes less than 10 minutes to perform.Within the diabetes-affected population, there is a very wide range of calcified plaque build-up in the arteries and the heart, from individuals with none at all, to people whose entire vessels are nearly completely calcified.The researchers separated more than 1,000 study participants into five groups, according to the amount of calcified plaque they had in their blood vessels at the beginning of the study.The health of those participants was then followed for an average of 7.4 years before researchers compared the data from those who died during the study to those who are still living."We saw a dramatic risk of dying earlier in the people with highest levels of calcified plaque in their blood vessels," Bowden said."When comparing the group with the highest amount of plaque to the group that had the lowest amount of calcified plaque, the risk of dying was more than six times greater in the group with high levels of calcified plaque. The difference in risk that we revealed is striking."It`s in a group of people who are already at risk, but the CAC level really rather dramatically differentiates risk between people within this high-risk group. This finding could have novel clinical implications," he stated.The study appears in the May issue of Diabetes Care. ANI