Scientists from the University of Leicester have established a link between the increased risk of cardiovascular events and severe hypoglycemia.
The results, published in the journal Diabetes Care, could lead to changes in the way some patients with diabetes have their treatment managed.
Hypoglycemia study
After extracting data from the Clinical Practise Research Datalink database, the scientists examined 3,260 patients with type 1 diabetes, and 10,422 patients with type 2 diabetes who were all treated with insulin.
Following severe hypoglycemia (very low blood sugars), insulin-treated patients with diabetes had roughly a 60 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular events.
They were also 2-2.5 times more likely to die during the same period as patients who did not experience severe hypoglycemia.
Risk of cardiovascular events
Cardiovascular disease is a higher risk for people with diabetes due to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels, which was a major cause of early death in these patients.
When blood glucose levels become dangerously low, this can potentially trigger fatal cardiovascular events.
Kamlesh Khunti, leader of the research and professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “This is one of the first studies to report the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The risks are very significant and we need to identify these patients early with a view to implementing strategies to reduce their risk of severe hypoglycaemia.”
The research team included researchers from insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

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