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Study finds extreme glucose levels In diabetic patients who suffer heart failure linked to increase risk of death


HOUSTON Patients with diabetes who suffer heart failure and have too high or too low levels of blood glucose may run an increased risk of dying, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine and a Houston-based Dept. of Veteran Affairs hospital, and published in the current issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, compared patients with glucose levels too high or too low to those who had moderately controlled glucose levels over a two- to three-month period by measuring the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood that is bound to the sugar glucose.

“Most doctors try to keep glucose levels of those with diabetes as low as they can to lower the risk of complications such as eye problems, kidney disease or the development of heart disease,” BCM assistant professor of medicine David Aguilar said in a statement. “However, we found that in diabetic patients with heart failure, glucose levels slightly higher than what are normally recommended had the lowest risk of death.”

The researchers, at BCM and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, identified 5,815 veterans with heart failure and diabetes who were receiving treatment at VA hospitals across the country, following them for two years and dividing them into five groups depending on their glycosylated hemoglobin levels. Though medical professionals recommend levels of 7 and lower for diabetes patients, the researchers found that those with heart failure who had levels of 7.1 to 7.8 had the lowest death rate.

“This doesn’t mean that diabetic patients with heart failure should change their target goal for glucose levels,” Aguilar said. “The results could simply be telling us that the glycosylated hemoglobin levels are a marker for other risks that are contributing to increased risk of death, but not necessarily the cause of the problem.”

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