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ECG Signs Identify Diabetics with High Death Risk

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2004

A computerized electrocardiogram, or ECG, can show which people with type 2 diabetes have a particularly high risk of dying, researchers report.

Diabetes increases the odds of developing heart disease, and more and more people are becoming diabetic. According to Dr. Peter Okin of Cornell Medical Center, New York, we need to make more accurate identification of diabetic patients at increased risk of dying a clinical priority.

In light of this, Okin and colleagues looked at signs on the ECG that are associated with mortality risk in the general population to see if they would be of use in diabetics.

They examined digital ECG readings obtained from a study of 994 Native Americans with type 2 diabetes. The participants were followed for an average of five years, during which time there were 56 heart-related deaths and 155 deaths from all causes, according to the investigators' report in the medical journal Diabetes

After taking into account age and other factors, two features on the ECG were significant predictors of death. One, known as ST segment depression, conferred a three-fold high risk of cardiovascular mortality. Both ST segment depression and another ECG sign, called the QT interval, doubled the risk of all-cause mortality.

These findings provide impetus for further study to examine whether more aggressive treatment of diabetic patients with these ECG markers of risk can reduce mortality.  

Source: Diabetes In

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