All people with type 2 diabetes do not have the same risk of heart disease, according to a new US study published online in Diabetes Care.
Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center say they have found that the best way for doctors to predict which type 2 diabetes patients are at the greatest risk for heart disease is to test for coronary artery calcium (CAC), in addition to current assessment tools.
The CAC test is a non-invasive, relatively low-cost test that uses a CT scan to detect and measure levels of calcium in the coronary arteries, which can cause blockages that interrupt or block the heart’s blood supply.
According to the Wake Forest Baptist team, it can identify diabetes patients who have either a very high or low risk for developing potentially-fatal cardiovascular disease .
Professor Donald Bowde, senior author of the study said: “Our observations challenge accepted medical knowledge that all people with diabetes have the same risk. CAC is key in predicting the specific risk level.”
He added that people with a very high heart risk are eleven times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those at low risk.
By using the CAC test to identify diabetics at highest risk, doctors would be able to use more effective treatments to improve outcomes for these patients.
“Based on our study, we think that CAC should be added to the Framingham tool as the standard of care for all people with diabetes,” Bowden concluded.
The Framingham Risk Score is a risk calculator that is used by medical practitioners in the US to estimate a person’s 10-year cardiovascular risk. The tool is based on data obtained from a large, long-term heart study conducted in Framingham, Massachusetts.

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