Routine Heart Scans May Not Benefit Diabetic Patients

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Routine Heart Scans May Not Benefit Diabetic Patients
Routine Heart Scans May Not Benefit Diabetic Patients

(HealthDay News) — Routine screening for coronary artery disease isn't effective for people with diabetes who have no symptoms but are at high risk for myocardial infarction (MI), according to research published online Nov. 17 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The findings were released to coincide with presentation at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, held from November 15–19 in Chicago.

Brent Muhlestein, MD, director of cardiovascular research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, UT, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of using coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) screening to help reduce deaths, MIs, and hospitalizations among people with diabetes. The study involved 900 people with diabetes. The researchers randomly selected participants to undergo screenings or pursue standard diabetes management, which involved ongoing care by a doctor. Of the patients who were screened, those diagnosed with silent cardiovascular disease received more aggressive treatment to help prevent cardiovascular problems.

After four years, the screenings resulted in a slight increase in the number of cardiovascular procedures and use of drugs to manage high cholesterol levels. The researchers noted, however, there was little change in the number of deaths, MIs, and cases of unstable angina. The study authors concluded the benefits of the screenings were not significant enough to justify a change in the current standard of care for people with diabetes.

"Previous studies have shown that CCTA screening is nearly as good as standard invasive heart catheterization in defining coronary arteries. Because of this, we hoped this new technology would help us identify heart disease in high-risk patients who don't have symptoms, and thereby allow us to better care for them," Muhlestein said in an Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute news release. "However, it turned [out] that the excellent standard of care offered to diabetic patients is just as effective."

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