Diabetic Heart Screenings – How Important Are They?

Diabetic Heart Screenings – How Important Are They: It seems that every disease confronting mankind is met with the medical warning to get screenings now and then keep getting regular screenings in order to arrest the potential of life altering difficulties.

That is, until now.

A recent report in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that, “Routine screening for coronary artery disease …did not result in a significant reduction in heart attacks or death from cardiac causes among patients with no symptoms of heart or artery disease followed for an average of five years,” according to WebMD.

Study participants had a very small percentage of “cardiovascular events” leading Lawrence H. Young, MD, of Yale University School of Medicine to tell WebMD, “There are about 20 million people living with type 2 diabetes in the United States. While patients with [cardiovascular] symptoms certainly should be screened, as an overall public health measure, generalized screening doesn’t appear to be appropriate.”


For many this news could alleviate separate stress symptoms that may not be necessary in most instances. Individuals who fear heart disease may be able to relax a bit knowing that consistent screenings may not be needed.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) indicates that adults with diabetes have a risk similar to that of a heart attack victim for a “fatal or life-threatening cardiovascular event.”

The Yale inspired study did not corroborate this finding. They did, however, conclude that more proactive care in responding to symptoms of potential heart disease might be having an impact in management. WebMD posted the following findings.

  • Just seven nonfatal heart attacks and eight cardiac deaths occurred among patients who were screened (2.7%), compared to 10 nonfatal heart attacks and seven cardiac deaths among patients who were not screened (3%).
  • Based on MPI (myocardial perfusion imaging) testing, fewer than one in four screened patients (23%) showed evidence of cardiovascular disease, and just 6% had evidence of advanced coronary artery blockages.
  • Just over 5% of screened patients had surgery to restore blood flow to the heart over the course of the five-year study, compared to 7.8% of patients in the unscreened group.

The actual numbers may seem insignificant, but they are statistically important because spread over the 20 million Type 2 diabetics in America those small statistics may mean improved lives for thousands of patients.

Dr. Young continued by saying, “People with type 2 diabetes certainly have an increased risk for coronary artery disease, but the doom-and-gloom message of recent years may have been overstated. Patients receiving contemporary [preventive] treatment who are closely followed seem to do pretty well.”

The two key elements to making protracted screenings less necessary seem to be early diagnosis and proactive treatment of diabetes and related symptoms.

WebMD reported, “Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke, and diabetes patients have twice the incidence of heart disease as the general population.”

However, if the medical profession can catch patients before they begin to develop heart disease they may be very effective at reducing the overall number of diabetic patients who have heart attacks or need angioplasties or heart bypass operations.

The study this report is based on followed more than 1,100 patients to determine their ultimate findings. It should be noted that medical organizations like the ADA changed some of their guidelines after the study began. In all cases these organizations began calling for more, “aggressive treatment of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” according to WebMD.

The collective wisdom seems to suggest better health in proactive medicine.