Features July 2009 Issue

Control Blood Glucose Levels to Minimize Heart Risk

A healthier diet and exercise can go a long way toward preventing the onset of diabetes.

Itís well documented that diabetes can seriously complicate a heart condition, but research continues to show that elevated glucose levels that arenít yet considered diabetes can boost our risk of cardiovascular problems, even if we donít yet have heart disease. An estimated 37 million Americans age 65 and older have diabetes, about a quarter of that population. But an additional 20 to 30 percent of seniorsóabout 7 to 11 million older adultsóare not considered to have diabetes, but do have the form of "pre-diabetes" called impaired glucose tolerance. Unfortunately, itís a condition that can be overlooked by physicians because pre-diabetes is seldom accompanied by obvious symptoms. Older adults who have impaired glucose tolerance, but are not yet considered diabetic, have an elevated heart disease risk and may benefit from preventive therapies, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose refer to a mean blood glucose level that is in the 100-125 mg/dl range. Normal is considered 70-100 mg/dl and diabetes is considered 126 mg/dl or higher, as measured on at least two occasions.

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