Diabetes Among Siblings, Obesity: Risk Factors For Heart Disease

April 2003 - The following news tip is based on anabstracts/poster to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 52nd Scientific Session, held March 30--April 2 in Chicago.

Studies have suggested that the "metabolic syndrome" -- a cluster of health problems that includes high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, and obesity increases the risk of heart disease. Now, Johns Hopkins-directed research delves in a little deeper, finding that two important risk factors for the syndrome, family history of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, are independent predictors of heart disease.

Researchers studied 5,912 non-diabetic adults with an average age of 53 who had reported to an Ohio heart clinic for electron beam computed tomography (EBCT), a noninvasive radiology test for early plaque buildup in the heart's blood vessels, between 1999 and 2002. They measured the participants' height and weight, assessed their risk factors for heart disease and asked about any family history of diabetes.

Study participants with brothers or sisters who had diabetes were 1.4 times more likely to develop coronary artery disease. In addition, obese individuals, defined by a body-mass index greater than 30, were 2.2 times more likely than normal weight individuals to develop coronary artery disease. Body-mass index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

"Even in the absence of overt diabetes, individuals with markers of this metabolic syndrome are at increased risk for heart disease," says Joel B. Braunstein, M.D., lead author of the study and a postdoctoral cardiology fellow. "They may benefit from early aggressive preventive efforts, and should see their health care providers to screen carefully for other high-risk conditions."

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Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions