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It's well known that diabetes, an inflammatory disease, increases the risk of developing heart disease and related complications-also the result of inflammation. Now there's a way of predicting which type 2s may be at the highest risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
The "coronary calcium score," developed by researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, measures the build-up of calcium on the walls of coronary arteries. Type 2 patients with very high calcium scores can be more than 11 times more likely to die from heart disease than patients with the lowest scores.
The study was based on results derived from tests on 1,123 adult patients with type 2 diabetes, aged 34 to 86 years.
In the scale developed by the Wake Forest researchers, a score of 0 means indicates no calcium buildup in the arteries, thus no heart disease risk. A score more than 100 usually means a patient has heart disease. At its high end, the scale runs to 1,000 or more, a level at which the risk of deaths from heart disease increases dramatically:
• Type 2s with scores of 10 to 99 had 2.93 times the likelihood of dying from heart disease than type 2s with scores of 0 to 9.
• Type 2s with scores of 100 to 299 had 3.17 times the likelihood of dying from heart disease.
• Type 2s with scores of 300 to 999 had 4.41 times the likelihood of dying from heart disease.
• Type 2s with scores of 1,000 or more had 11.23 times the odds of dying from heart disease.
Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that coronary calcium scoring be added to the repertoire of diagnostic tools healthcare users use when dealing with people with diabetes. In any case, they advise, type 2s should make sure to routinely ask their doctors to assess their risk for heart disease.
The study has been published in Diabetes Care.
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