High A1C May Increase Heart Disease Risk In People With Prediabetes

High A1C May Increase Heart Disease Risk In People With Prediabetes

In addition to the millions of people in America who live with type 2 diabetes, there are millions who have prediabetes. Experts are learning more about this issue every day, and believe that prediabetes puts you at risk for some of the same health problems as the full disease.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes describes people who have a blood glucose level that is above normal, but not high enough to be full diabetes.

What does this mean? For starters, let’s look at how the American Diabetes Association defines diabetes. You have diabetes if you have one of the test results listed below and also have high blood glucose symptoms, such as greatly increased hunger, thirst and need to urinate. If you don’t have any symptoms, repeat the test to confirm.

The Research

The study was done with 274 people who did not have a history of diabetes. They were split into 3 groups based on their A1C level:

Group 1: A1C less than 5.7 percent (normal or no diabetes)

Group 2: A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent (prediabetes)

Group 3: A1C above 6.4 percent (diabetes)

Each group had tests done that checked the amount of damage (or stiffness) they had in their blood vessels. This goes along with the risk for heart disease; the more damage, the greater the risk. Heart disease is sometimes called “hardening of the arteries,” which is why the researchers looked at blood vessel stiffness.

These experts wanted to know if the group with prediabetes would have the same risk for heart disease as the group with diabetes.

The results

The study found that the prediabetes group had the same amount of damage and stiffness in their blood vessels as the group who had diabetes.

In addition, about two-thirds of the people in the prediabetes group had normal fasting blood glucose levels and normal results on the OGTT.  If they didn’t check their A1C, they would not have known they had prediabetes or an increased heart disease risk.


By Robert Ehrman, MD

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