Diabetics face higher risk following surgery

Individuals with type 2 diabetes may be at significantly higher risk of death following surgery than non-diabetics, according to the findings of a new study, which was presented at the conference Anesthesiology 2010.

After examining medical records from nearly 62,000 non-cardiac surgery patients (15.8 percent of whom had diabetes), researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that there is a close relationship between blood sugar levels at the time of surgery and risk of death one year after the procedure.

Non-diabetics who had high blood sugar levels at the time of surgery were much more likely to die within a year of their procedure compared to those with normal levels. Similarly, diabetics were more likely to die following surgery regardless of their blood sugar levels.

Researchers speculated that diabetics' systems may have become accustomed to high blood sugar levels, making it difficult to tolerate the drop following surgery.

"It is also possible that diabetics who have lived with high blood sugar for long periods of time have become accustomed to this state and may have reset their metabolism, becoming unable to tolerate lower blood glucose levels," said Basem Abdelmalak, who led the study. "This is similar to what happens to patients with long-term high blood pressure."
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