Hyperglycemia is not only associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, but may also be an independent risk factor for hardened arteries, according to a study published in the November 2012 issue of Atherosclerosis
The researchers looked at 9050 participants from the community-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Participants included both diabetic and nondiabetic patients. Researchers examined each participant’s carotid artery using ultrasounds and analyzed the association between hyperglycemia, as measured by A1C levels, and arterial stiffness. Stiffness was measured using 2 common indicators: pressure–strain elastic modulus (Ep) and Young’s elastic modulus (YEM). Researchers also interviewed participants for demographic and lifestyle information, including age, sex, race, alcohol use, smoking status, and family history of diabetes.
Higher A1C levels were associated with increased arterial stiffness for both Ep and YEM. Researchers suggest that hyperglycemia contributes to arterial stiffness beyond its effects on atherosis. The study suggests that hyperglycemia may be associated with altered material within the arterial wall and not with wall thickness or increased blood pressure.