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Blood Sugar Levels Predict Risk of Disease, Death

Moms View Message Board: Let's Get Fit! (Weight Loss Support Group): Blood Sugar Levels Predict Risk of Disease, Death
By John on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 04:34 pm:


Blood Sugar Levels Predict Risk of Disease, Death

By Paula J. Wart

Cholesterol levels are not the best predictor for heart disease. Does that surprise you? Neither are triglyceride levels, blood pressure, or body mass. The best predictor of heart disease may be your blood sugar level specifically your glycated hemoglobin.

What Is Glycated Hemoglobin?
Your body can use only so much glucose (sugar). When excess glucose is consistently present in your body, it begins attaching itself to your red blood cells. Eventually, excess glucose begins attaching itself to tissue cells. A glycated hemoglobin test (HbA1c) indicates on average how much sugar has attached itself to your red blood cells over the past three months.

Interestingly, you can have high glycated hemoglobin levels and not have diabetes. Only about five percent of the population over age 45 has diabetes. About 70 percent of the non-diabetic population over age 45 has high glycated hemoglobin levels (an HbA1c of 5.0 percent or higher).

A glycated hemoglobin test is possibly a more accurate test for diabetes diagnosis than a fasting blood sugar test. None of the participants in a four-year glycated hemoglobin study in Norfolk, England had been diagnosed with diabetes prior to the study. Researchers discovered that an HbA1c level of 7.0 percent or higher strongly indicates diabetes. An HbA1c test is being suggested as a screening tool for diabetes.

Besides being a predictor for diabetes, elevated glycated hemoglobin levels predict increased risk of heart disease and mortality from all causes. Your risk of death rises proportionally to your blood sugar levels, according to the Norfolk study. When it comes to predicting heart disease risk, measuring glycated hemoglobin is as important as cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Increased age appears to be the biggest factor of HbA1c levels of 7.0 percent or higher. A greater body mass index/waist-hip radio, and high consumption of foods high in saturated fats are also significant predictors. Being male increases your risk of high HbA1c levels three fold. And being post-menopausal increases your chances of high HbA1c values.

Consuming high levels of vitamin C and E, as well as alcohol appears to lower HbA1c levels, further indicating that diet plays an influential roll in blood sugar levels. Other lifestyle factors such as increasing your physical activity and decreasing excess body fat should also decrease glycated hemoglobin levels.


1. Khaw K et al. Glycated haemoglobin, diabetes, and mortality in men in Norfolk cohort of European Prospective Investigation of Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Norfolk). BMJ 2001; 322:15. Available online at: cgi/content/abridged/ 322/7277/15. Accessed February 26, 2002.

2. Boeing H et al. Association between glycated hemoglobin and diet and other lifestyle factors in a nondiabetic population: cross-sectional evaluation of data form the Potsdam cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000: 71(5). Available online at: cgi/content/full/ 71/5/1115. Accessed February 26, 2002.


Copyright 2002-2004 Wellsource, Inc.

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