Malay diabetes patient more likely to get heart attack, stroke or kidney failure: Study

SINGAPORE - A Malay diabetic is far more likely to get heart attack, stroke or kidney failure than either Indians or Chinese with diabetes.

This finding from a decade-long study of 2,337 diabetic patients by the clinical research unit at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) was shared on Saturday at a forum held by health-care group Alexandra Health System, which runs KTPH.

Patients in the study, who have had the disease for about 12 years, were recruited between 2002 and 2011, with a mean follow-up period of 4.5 years.

It found that Malay patients were four to eight times more likely to get heart attack or stroke than the average Singaporean with no diabetes.

An Indian patient is slightly better off, with a risk that's 3.5 to 7.5 times higher, while a Chinese with diabetes has two to four times the risk.

The range of risks depends on, among other things, the person's gender, age and ability to control his blood sugar levels.

Associate Professor Lim Su Chi, director of the unit, who headed the research, said heart attacks and strokes are the main causes of illness and premature deaths among diabetics - even more so than kidney failure.

The team found that Malay patients' higher risk is because they are more likely to suffer from diabetic kidney disease - which in the long term would lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis.

Prof Lim said all diabetics can help prevent heart attacks, stroke or kidney failure with lifestyle changes that includes not smoking, and "intensive control" of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.