Wake-up call on prediabetes, Endocrinologists say disease linked to heart attack


Leading endocrinologists in the US have warned against prediabetes as a major independent risk factor for heart attacks. A study presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, ENDO 2022, has shed light on the link between prediabetes and myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack.

While diabetes has been established as a major contributor to heart attack, kidney ailments and stroke, prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not enough to be considered diabetes. People with prediabetes are prone to turn diabetic.

Researchers at the St. Peters University Hospital and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey analyzed the National Inpatients Sample (NIS) data of 1.79 million patients who had been admitted with a heart attack between 2016-2018 to establish the connection between prediabetes and heart attack.

Of these patients, 1 percent had prediabetes. After adjusting for risk factors for heart disease including age, sex, race, family history of heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and obesity, prediabetes was associated with 25 percent increased odds of a heart attack, compared with patients without prediabetes.

Those with prediabetes also were at 45 percent increased odds of having percutaneous intervention (a heart treatment to open blocked blood vessels) and almost double the risk of having heart bypass surgery.

“Our findings reinforce the importance of early recognition by screening and early intervention of prediabetes by lifestyle changes and/or medications to decrease the risk of cardiovascular events,” said Geethika Thota, an internal medicine resident with Saint Peter’s Healthcare System and lead investigator of “Prediabetes is a Risk Factor for Myocardial Infarction- A National Inpatient Sample Study.”

“Our study serves as a wake-up to everyone to shift the focus to managing prediabetes, not just diabetes,” Thota said. “Based on our findings, we encourage everyone to make lifestyle changes, follow a healthy diet and regular exercise for at least 150 minutes each week in patients with prediabetes to decrease the risk of heart attacks.”
A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in 2018 had established one out of every six Indians had prediabetes. Being an asymptomatic disease, it is difficult to identify patients. One possible sign of prediabetes is darkened skin around the neck, armpits, and groin.

Increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, frequent infections, slow-healing sores and unintended weight loss are classical symptoms of diabetes in a person.


What to do:

1.      Get adequate sleep: A 2015 study on sleep disorders links sleeping less than eight hours to prediabetes.

2.      More exercise: At least 30 minutes of exercise daily improves flexibility, muscle mass, and shred extra kilos. Burning more than consuming helps the body regulate blood sugar levels better.

3.      Schedule your meals: Eat smaller meals, at regular intervals throughout the day to manage blood sugar levels better.

4.      Control portions: The portions of meals should be controlled to ensure that all meals, when combined, don’t turn out to be high in the glycemic index (GI).

5.      Cut sugar: Cutting sweets is not enough. Sugary drinks, fruit juices, and processed foods (which contain concentrated and added sugars) have to be avoided.

6.      More fiber: A fiber-rich diet helps balance blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance. Take more vegetables, limit consumption of nuts, seeds and fruits. Dates and mangoes, for example, have a very high concentration of sugar.

7.      Look lean: Adding lean protein to the diet like chicken and fish, while avoiding fatty and fried foods will help get a lean look. Consuming excess fat makes it difficult for the body to lower blood sugar levels.

8.      Say no to smoking and alcohol: Nicotine raises blood sugar levels in the body, so does alcohol, apart from dehydrating the body. Even while drinking socially avoid sugary juices, soda or liqueurs. Limit drinks to two small ones for males, and one for females.