A new study has found that an abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG) can indicate a possible risk of cardiovascular events in people with type 1 diabetes.
People with type 1 diabetes are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and forewarning signs of cardiac complications can go undetected without proper screening.
Here, researchers tried to find out whether problems with the variation of the heart’s rhythm detected through an ECG can signal an increased risk for a CVD event.
They followed 1,306 adults with type 1 diabetes from the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (DCCT/EDIC) study.
Among all participants, 155 had their first CVD event occurring during a 19-year follow-up by the research team at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina.
Most participants developed a myocardial infarction (MI), others suffered a stroke, serious angina or coronary revascularisation. Seven died from one of those CVD events.
Looking back at ECGs performed on these people prior to the CVD event, researchers discovered that abnormalities detected on readings were indicative of possible risks.
This was after taking into account other risk cofactors.
Major ECG abnormalities, the kind signalling things like a dangerous arrhythmia or damage to the heart muscle, were associated with a more than twofold increased risk for those CVD events.
However, minor ECG abnormalities that did not necessarily indicate disease were not retrospectively associated with a significant increase in CVD risk for participants.
Researchers noted that each annual visit in which a major ECG abnormality was detected added another 30 per cent increase to the risk for a possible CVD event.
The findings suggest that there is value for people with type 1 diabetes to undergo yearly ECGs, even in the absence of symptoms, to detect any silent heart condition.
It may be especially of benefit for people with type 1 diabetes who present other risk factors increasing the likelihood of CVD.

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