Spotting Heart Risk in Diabetes

Cardiovascular disease mortality in type 2 diabetes patients predicted by coronary calcium score

December 19, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Diabetes boosts the risk of heart disease. But how can doctors spot which diabetes patients are most at risk of heart disease and its complications? According to a recent study, one tool may help.

Researchers found that coronary calcium scoring (a measure of calcium buildup on the walls of the heart's arteries) may predict the risk of death from heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Results showed that patients with the highest coronary calcium score had more than 11 times the odds of dying from heart disease, compared to those with the lowest scores.

"See a doctor to assess your heart disease risk."

No matter who you are, diabetes can increase your risk of heart disease. However, not every diabetes patient has the same risk. Due to limited resources, doctors try to focus on the highest risk patients. So how do doctors determine a patient's risk of heart disease?

In their study, Donald W. Bowden, PhD, of Wake Forest School of Medicine, and colleagues wanted to see what information coronary calcium scores could provide about the risk of death from heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Coronary calcium scoring is a way to measure heart disease risk. A score of 0 means there is no calcium buildup in the arteries and thus no heart disease risk. A score over 100 typically means a patient has heart disease.

The researchers found that diabetes patients with higher coronary calcium scores had higher odds of death from heart disease than those with lower scores.

Compared to patients with a coronary calcium score of 0 to 9, those with a score of:

  • 10 to 99 had 2.93 times the odds of dying from heart disease
  • 100 to 299 had 3.17 times the odds of dying from heart disease
  • 300 to 999 had 4.41 times the odds of dying from heart disease
  • 1,000 or more had 11.23 times the odds of dying from heart disease

According to the authors, these findings suggest that coronary calcium scoring could be used to categorize risk in patients with type 2 diabetes, a population already at increased risk of heart disease.

The study included 1,123 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 34 to 86 years. The study was published December 10 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

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Review Date: 
December 18, 2012
Last Updated:
December 20, 2012