High Blood Sugar Causes Heart, Stroke Death
High blood sugar levels cause about three million heart disease-, stroke- and diabetes-related deaths worldwide each year, according to a study published Friday in the Lancet, the Washington Post reports.
For the study, Majid Ezzati of the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues examined data collected from 52 countries to determine whether higher than optimum blood sugar levels contributed to heart disease- and stroke-related deaths during 2001. They found that a total 3.1 million people worldwide die each year from high blood sugar (Washington Post, 11/10).
By comparison, more than the 2.4 million deaths are attributed to obesity, 4.8 million are caused by smoking and 3.9 million are caused by high cholesterol, according to researchers. Scientists from the U.S. and New Zealand estimate than in addition to the 960,000 diabetes deaths each year, raised blood sugar levels are responsible for 1.5 million deaths from heart disease and 700,000 deaths from stroke.
People with higher than optimum levels of blood sugar may not be diagnosed as diabetic but can still have blood vessel damage and an increased risk for heart disease.
According to Ezzati, "A lot of people are dying as a result of their blood glucose being elevated even though many may well be below the clinical threshold of what we call diabetes." He added, "Even people who are in prediabetes level have blood glucose levels that from a cardiovascular perspective has some risk associated with it."
Those risks, he said, "are accumulating and causing a lot of deaths even though they don't fall into any clinical classification" (Reuters, 11/9).