Experimental Blood Test Predicts Heart Attack Risk for Diabetics

Even though diabetes can be managed with medication, a healthy diet, and smart lifestyle choices, it still increases the risk for certain diseases.

One of those diseases happens to be the leading cause of death in the United States…heart disease. At least 68 percent of older adults with diabetes die from some form of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

It's a serious issue. If you have diabetes, you're two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than someone who doesn't have diabetes. Monitoring known risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, obesity, lack of exercise, rapid changes in blood sugar levels, and smoking) in people who have diabetes is one way to predict heart disease.

But what if there was a way to predict heart disease risk for diabetes, before developing some of these warning signs? It could potentially provide you and your doctor with information to prevent heart disease before it's too late.

An experimental blood test developed in Europe may be able to predict heart disease risk long before an emergency room visit or heart attack. Researchers measured levels of the blood marker, copeptin, in 681 people with type 2 diabetes. Then they collected data on heart health for those in the study the next seven years.

They found people with type 2 diabetes were more twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke for every 1 pmol/L increase in blood copeptin levels. In other words, higher levels of copeptin suggest a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Lead researcher Dr. Simona Ioana Chisalita says more work is needed to understand the relationship between copeptin and heart attack or stroke risk in diabetics. But the research does point to measuring copeptin as a potential way to recognize and prevent heart disease in diabetics.

Until measuring copeptin becomes an established marker for heart and stroke risk in diabetics, controlling risk factors for heart health with diet, exercise, and medication makes sense. Even small changes in your diet when you have diabetes can have a significant impact on blood sugar levels, your overall health, and mortality rate.