Individuals with pre-diabetes may be at an increased risk for stroke in the future, says a new study published in the June 16, 2012 issue of the British Medical Journal.
According to the American Diabetes Association, pre-diabetes is a precursor to type 2 diabetes in which the levels of glucose in the blood (blood sugar) are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Current research indicates that pre-diabetes may already be causing long-term damage to the body, in particular damage to the heart and circulatory system that can lead to stroke in the future.
Headed by researchers at the Chang Gung University College of Medicine at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Chiayi, Taiwan, the present study focused on assessing the association between pre-diabetes and the risk of stroke and then evaluated whether the relationship between pre-diabetes and stroke varies by diagnostic criteria for pre-diabetes.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, diabetes and pre-diabetes can be diagnosed through a fasting plasma glucose (FPG), an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), or a random plasma glucose test, which is also called a casual plasma glucose test. However, the exact number considered a high blood sugar level varies depending on the laboratory performing the testing.
After analyzing the data from 15 prospective cohort studies that included a total of 760,925 participants, the researchers discovered that pre-diabetes increased the risk of a future stroke in some but not all cases. Thus, the study concluded that pre-diabetes may be associated with a higher future risk of stroke but that the relative risks are modest and may reflect underlying confounding.
As the researchers comment:
“People with pre-diabetes on the basis of presence of impaired glucose tolerance had an independent risk of future stroke that was 20% greater than those with a normal glycaemia. The relation between pre-diabetes and risk of stroke seems to depend on the definition of pre-diabetes.”
The message that can be taken away from this study is that pre-diabetes, which is very often a precursor to diabetes, may also be linked to an increased risk of stroke. Although the evidence is not yet conclusive, individuals diagnosed with pre-diabetes should take the condition seriously because of the potential for future health problems.