( Boston , MA ) In diabetics, heart attacks and strokes are four times more common, occur earlier in life, and are more likely to be deadly than in people without diabetes. Greater attention to cholesterol and blood pressure, along with continued attention to blood sugar, could help people with diabetes live longer and healthier lives. However, surveys show that few people, including few doctors, know that diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand. The September issue of the Harvard Heart Letter sheds light on this important health connection.
People with diabetes are encouraged to measure their blood sugar and follow diets that limit the release of sugar into the bloodstream. These efforts slow the progression of diabetes and help prevent diabetes-related damage but do not do much to forestall heart disease, stroke, or peripheral artery disease. Most people with diabetes—up to 80%—die of heart disease and other circulation problems. In diabetic patients, high blood pressure contributes to kidney, eye, and nerve damage.
Because of these findings, organizations such as the American Heart Association are working to publicize the relationship between diabetes and heart disease. Recently, the American College of Physicians proposed aggressive new guidelines that spotlight the cardiovascular consequences of diabetes. These guidelines recommend statins to manage cholesterol and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
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