Pre-diabetes: An explanation for explosive coronary plaque growth

Art's first CT heart scan in March, 2006 yielded a concerning score of 1336. He felt fine--no chest discomfort, no breathlessness, etc.

Art agreed to take the statin cholesterol drug his primary care doctor prescribed. He also agreed to take the fish oil, niacin, and some of the nutritional supplements that we advised. But Art just couldn't bring himself to make the commitment to lose weight.

At the start of his program, Art--at 5 ft. 8 inches--was 40 lbs overweight (212 lb). This was important since his blood sugar wavered in the pre-diabetic range, going as high as 130 mg. (The American Diabetes Assn. defines diabetes as a blood glucose of 126 mg or greater.)

One year later, Art's lipid and lipoprotein values were corrected to perfection. But he still weighed in at a hefty 209 lbs--essentially no change. His blood sugar likewise hovered in the 120's.

I felt Art need to be prodded, so I asked him to undergo another heart scan. His score: 1935--a 600 point increase, or 45%!

Only now has Art begun to comprehend to power of diabetes and pre-diabetes to fan the flames of plaque growth. Recent published data, in fact, show that the majority of recently diagnosed diabetics already have well-established coronary artery disease.

Don't let this happen to you. Do not dismiss diabetic patterns as they will catch up to you. If Art can lose the 30-40 lbs in the abdominal weight that is creating the diabetic pattern, he will likely succeed in stopping plaque growth. Otherwise, it's just a matter of time before his heart attack, stent, or bypass.