People with type 2 diabetes who suffer a severe drop in blood sugar levels are at much greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to new research .
The study, published online in the BMJ, was carried out by an international team of researchers to assess the association between severe hypoglycemia and CVD.
They analysed results from six relevant observational studies involving a total of 903,510 adult patients with type 2 diabetes, and found that between 0.6% and 5.8% of participants experienced severe hypoglycemia from one to five years follow up.
Overall, this added just 1.56% to the total risk of developing CVD in the whole study population, but the researchers said it was “consistent with all studies showing a positive correlation”.
In conclusio, the researchers said their results suggest “that severe hypoglycemia is associated with a 2-fold increased risk of CVD”.
They said that given this risk, avoiding severe hypoglycaemia may be important to prevent heart disease and “less stringent glycaemic targets may be considered for type 2 diabetic patients at high risk of hypoglycemia”.
The team added that choices of glucose lowering agents with a low propensity to induce hypoglycemia, patient education, and self-monitoring of blood glucose can be useful in avoiding hypoglycemia, which in turn may be important to prevent cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes.