Sudden Cardiac Death Rate Skyrockets Among Pediatric Diabetes Patients

Children and young adults with diabetes 8 times more likely to experience cardiovascular mortality.

The link between heart disease and diabetes has been well-established over decades of research. In a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017, the authors found that children and young adults with diabetes are at risk of serious cardiovascular complications.

This population was observed to be 7 times more likely to experience cardiac death compared with pediatric patients without the condition, according to the study.

Sudden cardiac death occurs as a result of malfunctions in the heart’s electrical system, with death occurring instantly or soon after symptom onset.

Included in the study were Danish patients aged 1 to 35 years and 36 to 49 years. During the 10-year study period, there were 14,294 deaths, including 669 patients with diabetes. Of the patients with diabetes, 70% had type 1 diabetes and 30% had type 2 diabetes.

The authors discovered that children and young adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes were 8 times more likely to die from heart disease—including heart failure or atherosclerosis—compared with children and young adults without diabetes, according to the study.

The investigators said that young adults with diabetes may be at a higher risk of sudden cardiac death due to abnormalities in blood vessels.

“Although we have become better at helping people manage both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, it is still associated with increased risk of death, especially among young people,” said researcher Jesper Svane, BM.

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death among diabetes patients. Previous studies have shown that intensive management of risk factors can reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular mortality for patients with the condition, according to the authors of the current study. The new study is the first to analyze the causes of death and cause-specific death among this population, according to the authors.

“In light of the results from this study, tight control and effective treatment of blood lipids, blood pressure, and blood glucose is also important among children and young persons with diabetes,” Dr Svane said.

The authors cautioned that the findings may not be applicable to other populations, since 89% of the participants were Caucasian and ethnicity may influence the risk of sudden cardiac death.

However, the authors said that these findings suggest that young patients should be monitored for cardiovascular risk factors to prevent sudden cardiac death, according to the study.

“Our study shows the importance of early and continuous cardiovascular risk monitoring in children and young adults with diabetes,” Dr Svane said. “Healthcare providers need to be aware that even young patients with diabetes have elevated risk of mortality and that this is mainly explained by increased risk of sudden cardiac death.”