In a new study, researchers found that a nuclear stress test could help tell heart attack risk in people with diabetes.
Abnormal results on the test are linked to a much higher risk of a heart attack.
The finding supports a role for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) in heart attack detection in people with diabetes.
The research was led by a team from Harvard University.
Diabetes is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease and heart attack.
Accurate cardiac risk prediction in these patients is very important for them to get appropriate treatments.
PET MPI is a promising diagnostic and risk assessment tool.
The test uses radioisotopes and a special camera to show how well blood is flowing in the heart when it is under stress.
Prior research has shown the tool can help evaluate individuals with suspected or known coronary heart disease.
However, less is known about its value in patients with diabetes.
In the study, the team collected clinical data on stress tests for both diabetic and non-diabetic patients and then followed them to track heart attacks.
The study group consisted of 7,061 people, including 1,966 people with diabetes.
The team found that among diabetic patients, an abnormal PET MPI was linked to increased risk of cardiac death.
Using the data, the researchers could accurately assess the cardiac risk for many diabetic patients.
The team says that patients with diabetes remain at a much higher risk of cardiac death compared to patients without diabetes.
PET MPI could help select which vulnerable patients may need immediate treatment while sparing others from unnecessary procedures.
The team also found that, even when they had normal PET MPI results, people with diabetes had a similar rate of cardiac death to people without diabetes who were 10-15 years older.
This means younger diabetic patients may require additional care to protect heart health.
The lead author of the study is Hicham Skali, M.D., M.Sc., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The study is published in the journal Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging.
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