HbA1c testing accurately predicts future heart disease risk in type 2 diabetics

Type 2 diabetes is a known risk factor for heart disease, but some diabetics appear to be at greater risk than others. This can make it difficult for medical professionals to accurately forecast which of their patients need to take steps to improve their heart health.

However, a team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston recently reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine that HbA1c testing, which is primarily used for measuring a patient’s long-term blood sugar control, may be a useful tool for assessing heart disease risk in diabetic individuals.

The researchers arrived at this conclusion after studying more than 35,000 individuals, over 1,200 of whom had types 2 diabetes. Participants gave blood samples and the researchers then followed them for between 10 and 12 years.

Results from the investigation showed that HbA1c tests more accurately predicted a future case of heart disease among the diabetic participants, compared to no testing at all.

The researchers said that these findings are significant because currently, everyone with type 2 diabetes is considered to be at risk for developing heart disease. However, figures show that this is clearly not the case. Many people with the metabolic disorder never end up with heart problems. Adding this predictive measure could lead to much more accurate diagnoses.

“Simulated cost-benefit analyses have suggested that this variability in cardiovascular disease risk could provide an opportunity for tailored preventive therapy in diabetic patients," the researchers wrote in their report.

Given the fact that HbA1c testing is relatively inexpensive and widely available, it could play a large role in determining the cardiovascular risk of patients with type 2 diabetes.