News | January 20, 2015

Link Between Low Blood Glucose and Cardiovascular Events Revealed

International team led by University of Leicester publish new findings

Cardiac diagnostics, blood testing, University of Leicester

Image courtesy of University of Leicester

January 20, 2015 — A study involving scientists from the University of Leicester has established a link between hypoglycaemia and increased risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in patients with diabetes.

Professors Kamlesh Khunti and Melanie Davies, scientists from the University of Leicester’s Diabetes Research Centre, have confirmed an association between hypoglycaemia and an increased risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in insulin-treated patients with diabetes, which could lead to changes in the way some patients’ treatment is managed. The results were published online in the journal Diabetes Care.

As part of an international collaboration with scientists from Imperial College London, the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Novo Nordisk A/S – using data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink database – Khunti and Davies demonstrated that, following hypoglycaemia, insulin-treated patients with diabetes had a 60 percent higher risk of cardiovascular events, and were between 2–2.5 times more likely to die over the same period as patients who did not experience hypoglycaemia.

The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East Midlands, and the NIHR Leicester–Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit.

Khunti, professor of Primary Care Diabetes & Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester said:  “This is one of the first studies to report the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The risks are very significant and we need to identify these patients early with a view to implementing strategies to reduce their risk of hypoglycaemia.”

Patients with diabetes are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease due to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels; this is a major cause of early death in these patients. The results of the study show that hypoglycaemia, which occurs when a patient’s blood glucose becomes dangerously low, can trigger potentially fatal cardiovascular events.

For more information: www2.le.ac.uk/colleges/medbiopsych/research/diabetes-research-centre

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