Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Death Risk Rises With Blood Sugar

Even Without Diabetes, High Blood Sugar Ups Death, Heart Disease Risk
WebMD Health News

Sept. 20, 2004 -- As your blood sugar level goes up, so does your risk of death and heart disease - even if you don't have diabetes.

The news comes from two extraordinary studies appearing in the Sept. 21 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. Both focus on a test called hemoglobin A1c -- HbA1c -- which measures average blood sugar levels over the past three months. Normal HbA1c levels range from 4% to 6%.

High HbA1c is known to be a marker for blindness, kidney disease, and nerve damage in people with diabetes. Now it also predicts heart disease in people with diabetes, report Johns Hopkins researcher Elizabeth Selvin, MPH, and colleagues.

That's a major finding, if not a major surprise. The shock comes in a British study that looked at HbA1c levels in people with and without diabetes. Regardless of whether a person had diabetes, the study shows that every 1% increase in HbA1c ups the risk of death -- from all causes -- by 24% for men and 28% for women. Nearly three-fourths of the deaths in the study came in people with "moderately elevated" HbA1c levels: between 5% and 6.9%.

"These are important studies because they show we should be concerned about blood glucose elevations even in people who do not have diabetes," Laurence S. Sperling, MD, director of the Emory Heart Center risk reduction program, tells WebMD.

3 Most Important Things in Diabetes: Control, Control, Control

Selvin's team analyzed data from 10 studies of people with type 2 diabetes and three studies of people with type 1 diabetes.

In people with type 2 diabetes, they found, every 1% rise in HbA1c added 18% to a person's risk of heart disease. And there was a 28% jump in risk of "peripheral vascular disease" -- the problems in tiny blood vessels that lead to blindness, kidney failure, and amputation. The findings were similar, but not statistically significant, for people with type 1 diabetes.

"In normal people, HbA1c ranges from 4% to 6%. But in people with diabetes it can range from 6% to 20%," Selvin tells WebMD. "For people who have diabetes, good blood sugar control is an HbA1c of less than 7%. Over 8% is poor control. Over 9% is a very important sign of very poor control. Every 1% change is clinically significant."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner