In Heart Failure, Odds of Hospitalization Tied to Diabetes Control


By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) - Heart failure patients may be less likely to be hospitalized or die prematurely if they don’t also have diabetes – but even if they do have it, they may still minimize their risk by controlling their blood sugar, a recent study suggests.

Researchers studied nearly 49,000 patients with heart failure. During a median 2.6 years of follow-up, about 26,000 patients (53%) died.

Patients were 24% more likely to die during the study when they also had type 2 diabetes. With diabetes, heart failure patients were also 29% more likely to have their first hospitalization during the study period, researchers reported in JACC: Heart Failure, online October 11.

“What was surprising was that both low and high levels of blood glucose were associated with high risk of hospital admission and death, but well-controlled blood sugar levels were associated with a much lower risk,” said lead study author Claire Lawson of the University of Keele in the U.K.

“While diabetes and heart failure are a lethal combination, the study showed that controlling blood sugar levels within a target range and keeping them stable over time can virtually remove the additional risk associated with the diabetes,” Lawson said by email.

Lawson and colleagues examined records collected from 2002 to 2014 on people with heart failure in a national patient registry in the UK.

Patients with diabetes and dangerously high blood sugar were 75% more likely to be hospitalized and 30% more likely to die during the study than heart failure patients without diabetes, the study found.

At the same time, diabetics with dangerously low blood sugar were 42% more likely to be hospitalized and 29% more likely to die.

People with diabetes who didn’t stay on medications to control this condition were also more likely to die or be hospitalized than patients without diabetes.

A limitation of the study is that researchers lacked cardiac imaging data that would help pinpoint the exact type and severity of heart failure patients experienced, and this might have influenced the odds of hospitalization or death during the study.

Newer diabetes medications might also change the relationship between diabetes and the risk of hospitalization or death for people with heart failure, said Dr. Paul Hauptman, director of heart failure at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, who wasn't involved in the study.


JACC: Heart Failure 2017.

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