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April 2012

Health Complications Linked to High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar may be a predictor of poor health and complications in people who have coronary artery disease (CAD), according to a recent study.

Researchers set out to evaluate the link between elevated blood sugar and mortality associated with CAD in patients recently admitted to the hospital. They looked at data from 1,810 men and women treated for cardiac arrest between 1994 and 2004 at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

The results showed that those who had blood sugar levels greater than seven nanomoles per liter were up to 24 percent more likely to have a diabetes diagnosis at the 2.5 year followup, compared to those with lower levels. About 65 percent of those undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting surgery were either pre-diabetic or had diabetes. The in-hospital mortality rate was higher for people who had diabetes.

The scientists concluded that poor blood glucose control may be prevalent among CAD patients, and that this may be an indicator of a poor prognosis. However, more evidence is needed to confirm these findings.

CAD, also known as coronary heart disease (CHD), occurs when the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle) gradually become narrowed or blocked by plaque (a combination of fatty material, calcium, scar tissue, and proteins) deposits. The plaque deposits decrease the space through which blood can flow, leading to poor blood flow. As platelets (disc-shaped particles in the blood that aid clotting) come to the area, blood clots form around the plaque, causing the artery to narrow even further. Sometimes, the blood clot breaks apart, and blood supply is restored. In other cases, the blood clot (coronary thrombus) may totally block the blood supply to the heart muscle (coronary occlusion). This lack of blood flow (called ischemia) can "starve" some of the heart muscle and lead to chest pain (angina). A heart attack (myocardial infarction) results when blood flow is completely blocked, usually by a blood clot forming over a plaque that has ruptured. Unhealthy habits, such as a diet high in cholesterol and other fats, smoking, and lack of exercise accelerate the deposit of fat and calcium within the inner lining of coronary arteries.

CAD is the most common form of heart disease and the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. CAD affects about 14 million men and women in the United States, and claims more lives than the other seven leading causes of death combined.

For more information about CAD, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions Catabase.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Petursson, P. Aspects of Abnormal Glucose Regulation in Various Manifestations of Coronary Artery Disease. 2012 Feb 3. University of Gothenburg. View Abstract
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