Most U.S. adults with diabetes aren’t managing risks for heart disease

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In a new study from the Ohio State University, researchers found most people who have Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. aren’t managing risk factors for heart disease.

Fewer than 1 in 5 adults with Type 2 diabetes who are not diagnosed with heart disease have healthy levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol and don’t smoke.

The new report offers a review of the latest science on diabetes and heart disease, including findings of new medications that have changed diabetes care in recent years.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It affects more than 34 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability among people with Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body is unable to efficiently use the insulin it makes or when the pancreas loses its capacity to produce insulin.

Adults with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular causes – including heart attacks, strokes and heart failure – compared to adults who do not have diabetes.

The report reviewed the latest science on diabetes and heart disease, suggested the best care should incorporate healthy lifestyle interventions, plus medications or treatments such as surgery that support a healthy weight.

Modifiable lifestyle and societal issues account for up to 90% of the factors related to managing heart disease with Type 2 diabetes.

Targets to reduce the risk of heart disease among people with Type 2 diabetes include managing blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels; increasing physical activity; eating a healthy diet; maintaining a healthy weight; not smoking; not drinking alcohol; and getting psychosocial care.

The AHA’s last scientific statement on control of blood sugar, or glucose, was published in 2015, just as research was starting to suggest that glucose-lowering medications also may reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or cardiovascular death.

Since then, several national and international clinical trials have examined such medications.

Drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists have been game-changers in reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.

GLP-1 medications stimulate the release of insulin to control blood sugar. They also reduce appetite and help people feel full, which may help with weight management.

Other drugs known as SGLT-2 inhibitors spur the kidneys to dispose of excess glucose through urine, which lowers the risk of heart failure and slows the decrease in kidney function that is common among people with Type 2 diabetes.

Although many of these medications have become more commonly covered by health insurance plans, the cost can be a barrier.

And not all patients are aware these newer medications help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about common nutrient that could be key to better diabetes treatments, and findings of how to reverse type 2 diabetes and deadly liver disease.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about common painkillers that could harm your heart and kidneys, and results showing that people with this heart problem 5 times more likely to die in COVID-19.

The study is published in Circulation. One author of the study is Dr. Joshua J. Joseph.

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