Young adults with prediabetes more likely to be hospitalized for heart attacks

Study focuses on risk factors for those aged 18 to 44 years.

Young adults with prediabetes were more likely to be hospitalized for heart attack than those without, according to a review of U.S. health records in 2018.

Prediabetes, when a person’s fasting blood sugar level is 100 to 125 mg/dL, increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In the United States, about 88 million adults 18 or older have prediabetes and almost 29 million adults of them are aged 18 to 44 years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Prediabetes, if left untreated, can significantly impact health and can progress to Type 2 diabetes, which is known to increase a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease,” study author Akhil Jain, MD, resident physician at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby, Pennsylvania, said in a press release. “With heart attacks happening increasingly in young adults, our study was focused on defining the risk factors pertinent to this young population, so that future scientific guidelines and health policies may be better able to address cardiovascular disease risks in relation to prediabetes.”

Researchers reviewed National Inpatient Sample hospitalization records from 2018 for heart attack-related hospitalizations among young adults, aged 18 to 44 years. The findings were presented this month at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2022.

According to the press release, the analysis found:

  • Of the more than 7.8 million young adults hospitalized in 2018more than 31,000, or 0.4%, had blood sugar levels correlating to prediabetes.
  • Among those with prediabetes, the incidence of heart attack was 2.15% compared to 0.3% in young adults with normal blood sugar levels.
  • Adults with prediabetes were more likely than their peers without prediabetes to have high cholesterol (68.1% vs 47.3%) and obesity (48.9% vs 25.7%).
  • Adults with prediabetes who were hospitalized for heart attack were more likely to be men of Black, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander race or ethnicity.
  • Adults with prediabetes who were hospitalized for heart attack were more likely to have higher household incomes, to be hospitalized in urban teaching hospitals or to be hospitalized in the Midwest and West regions of the U.S., compared to adults with heart attacks who did not have prediabetes.

The researchers noted prediabetes can be reversed. Many of the steps taken to prevent prediabetes are the same steps to prevent heart disease.

“Eating a healthy diet, being physically active and losing weight, if needed, are all meaningful ways to reverse a prediabetes diagnosis,” AHA Chief Medical Officer Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, FAHA, FAAFP, said in a press release. “For smokers, participation in a program to stop smoking is also extremely important. Other lifestyle and behavior changes, like reducing stress, may seem small, yet they can have a large impact on many different areas of life and can make a difference, as well.”