How does diabetes mellitus affect the risk for coronary artery disease (CAD)?

Updated: Mar 30, 2020
  • Author: F Brian Boudi, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Yasmine S Ali, MD, MSCI, FACC, FACP  more...
  • Print


A disorder of metabolism, diabetes mellitus causes the pancreas to produce either insulin deficiency or insulin resistance. Glucose builds up in the blood stream, overflows through the kidneys into the urine, and results in the body losing its main source of energy, even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose.

An estimated 20.8 million people in the United States (7% of the population) have diabetes; 14.6 million have been diagnosed, and 6.2 million have not yet been diagnosed. Diabetes prevalence figures (including diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes) are available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Patients with diabetes are 2-8 times more likely to experience future cardiovascular events than age-matched and ethnically matched individuals without diabetes, [9] and a recent study suggested a potential reduction of all-cause and cardiovascular disease–specific mortality in women with diabetes mellitus who consumed whole-grain and bran. [30] Another study suggested that meat consumption is associated with a higher incidence of coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. [31]

Paynter et al found significant improvements in predictive ability of CVD risk using models incorporating HbA1c levels compared with classification of diabetes in both men and women. [32]

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!