Weight may predict heart disease risk in people with type 2 diabetes

weightBody mass index (BMI) may offer a simple way to predict heart disease risk for people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk.

A large percentage of deaths among people with diabetes are caused by heart disease, which includes atherosclerosis—a condition in which plaque slowly builds up in blood vessels that feed the heart. Eventually, plaque can reduce or block blood flow to the heart, leading to a heart attack.

“Our study shows there’s a strong linear relationship between BMI and plaque volume and composition,” said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, the study’s lead researcher. “So even being a little overweight is associated with more plaque, while being obese is associated with a lot of plaque.”

The research will be presented at the 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Dallas.

About the study

The study is part of a larger randomized trial known as faCTor-64, which is trying to see if computed tomography (CT) scans for heart disease among people with diabetes can help save lives.

As faCTor-64 researchers measured plaque buildup, they found that a major predictor of heart disease was BMI, a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

“It may be that in diabetic patients without any symptoms of heart disease, their BMI could be used to determine if they need a CT scan to screen for plaque buildup,” said Dr. Muhlestein. “We could then develop a treatment plan for at-risk patients.”

The take-home message
Dr. Muhlestein said the researchers’ goal “is to learn how to predict who will get heart disease, so we can provide the best care possible and improve long-term outcomes—rather than waiting until a person has a heart attack or even dies.”While research continues, people with diabetes might consider talking with their doctor about ways to control their weight.


Memorial Diabetes Prevention and Wellness is offering an evidence based Diabetes Prevention Program, proven to help people lower their risk of type 2 diabetes. Participants will learn how to change their lifestyle and improve health in group meetings with a trained lifestyle coach. The program has 16 weekly one hour sessions and six monthly follow up sessions, and will be offered in both English and Spanish.


How do I know if this program is for me?

  • Are you an adult who is overweight?
  • Do you have family members with diabetes?
  • Have you had gestational diabetes during one or more pregnancies?
  • Do you have high blood sugar, pre-diabetes, or borderline diabetes?


For more information regarding this new health management class or to refer patients, please call 509-249-5243.

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