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Surgery Risky for Patients With High Blood Sugar

Surgery Risky for Patients With High Blood Sugar

Surgery a risk for those with diabetes and high blood sugar levels.

A study conducted back in 2006 found that people with the highest blood sugar levels have more than six times the risk of developing potentially fatal blood clots in their lungs following surgery.

This means that diabetics with uncontrolled blood sugar levels should try their hardest to get them back to normal before going under the knife.

surgery a risk for those with diabetes and high blood sugar level Surgery Risky for Patients With High Blood Sugar

Researchers at the Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia examined the records of more than 6,500 patients who had had hip or knee replacement surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and found that those who had blood sugar levels over 250 milligrams/deciliter before surgery had a greater risk of developing blood clots than a control group of surgical patients with normal glucose levels of below 125 mg/dl.

Around 11 percent of the diabetic patients with the highest blood sugar levels developed a pulmonary embolism – which occurs when blood clots in leg veins break off and travel to the lung – compared with 2 percent of the healthy group. Although none of these patients died, the condition can be deadly.

“This was an unexpected result,” says study leader Boris Mraovic, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Jefferson Medical College.

For control reasons the researchers checked for body weight, the use of blood thinners, and a patient’s previous history of blood clots, all of which could have affected the results.

High blood sugar levels appear to increase clotting factors in the blood, which makes the blood thicker and more likely to form clumps. Studies suggest that one third of surgery patients have elevated blood sugar levels due to uncontrolled diabetes or pre-surgery stress.

This new study adds to a growing amount of evidence regarding the risks to surgical patients with high blood sugar, including greater danger of infections, renal failure, and even death.

Despite this, Mraovic says, hospitals don’t have standards in place for controlling blood sugar levels before surgery, and doctors usually don’t delay surgery for this reason.

Mraovic suggests patients should take matters into their own hands.

“Check your blood test results before surgery. If your blood sugar is high, ask your doctor if you can postpone surgery until it’s within a normal range.”


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