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Medical News

Hepatitis C Patients May Have Abnormal Blood Sugar

September 16, 2008

Blood sugar, or glucose, abnormalities "are common and easily underestimated among patients with chronic hepatitis C infection," Dr. Ming-Lung Yu of Taiwan's Kaohsiung Medical University and colleagues report.

In their study, the researchers compared the prevalence and characteristics of glucose abnormalities among 522 chronic hepatitis C patients and a control group of 447 participants without hepatitis C, based on the results of an oral glucose tolerance test.

After excluding those who were known to have diabetes, one-third of the hepatitis C patients (34.2 percent) had normal results on the oral glucose tolerance test, while 42.8 percent had impaired glucose tolerance and 23.0 percent had undiagnosed diabetes. By comparison, 64.7 percent of the controls had normal glucose levels, 32.4 percent had impaired glucose tolerance and 2.9 percent had diabetes.

Additional analyses showed a family history of diabetes, male gender, advanced fibrosis state of hepatitis, and increasing age each raised the risk of having glucose abnormalities.

Yu noted that two consecutive fasting plasma glucose measurements or randomly measured glucose levels greater than 200 milligrams per deciliter were not sufficient to confirm glucose abnormalities in the chronic hepatitis C patients.

Careful evaluation for undetected glucose abnormalities is "essential" in caring for patients with chronic hepatitis C, the researchers concluded. "Since family history, insulin resistance, age, and obesity are predisposing factors associated with diabetes in chronic hepatitis C patients, we would recommend an oral glucose tolerance test for chronic hepatitis C patients who are older than 40 years, have a family history of diabetes or who are overweight," they said.

The report, "Reappraisal of the Characteristics of Glucose Abnormalities in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Infection," was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (2008;103(8):1933-1940).

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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