The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, tested 58 older adults with an average age of 71, half with normal glucose tolerance and half with post-challenge hyperglycemia -- a condition where glucose spiked after a meal.
Those with post-challenge hyperglycemia not only had higher glucose and insulin levels after the meal than controls had but also higher levels of several cardiovascular disease risk factors. These included more inflammation of blood vessels, higher levels of a protein promoting blood clotting, and higher levels of a blood fat -- triglycerides.
In addition, a test of blood vessel function after the meal showed impairment only in the group with post-challenge hyperglycemia.
"In most cases, this mild form of high blood glucose causes no symptoms and is often overlooked by both doctors and patients, but studies have shown that it may be associated with increased risk of heart disease," study leader Dr. Jill Crandall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University said in a statement.
"Consequently, other interventions designed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including the use of statins and aspirin, should be strongly considered for older adults."