Preventive drugs and diabetes: reducing risk of heart attacks

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People with type 2 diabetes face double the risk of suffering a heart attack or dying from heart disease, compared to those without diabetes.

Over the past two decades, there has been a shift in how type 2 diabetes is managed, with more emphasis on preventing cardiovascular diseases.

A study conducted by Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark has found a significant reduction in the risk of heart attacks among patients with diabetes. This reduction coincides with the increased use of preventive medications.

When patients are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the immediate start of medications to prevent heart disease seems to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and premature death.

The Study’s Method

The study looked at how these changes in management may have affected the risk of heart attacks and premature death in patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, who had no previous heart disease.

The researchers identified all patients in Denmark who started therapy for type 2 diabetes from 1996 to 2011, totaling 211,278 patients.

Each patient with diabetes was compared with five people without diabetes, matched based on age and sex. All participants were observed for seven years.

The Study’s Findings

Researchers found that patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and no previous cardiovascular disease experienced significant reductions in the risk of heart attack and death.

From 1996 to 2011, the relative risk was reduced by 61% for heart attacks and by 41% for death. The absolute risks of heart attacks and death decreased by 4% and 12%, respectively.

Comparing patients with diabetes to the general population, the initially large differences in risk narrowed over time. By the end of the study, the risk of heart attack among patients with diabetes was only marginally (0.6%) higher than in the general population.

During the study period, the use of cholesterol-lowering medications among those with diabetes increased more than tenfold, aspirin usage increased by 50%, and the use of blood pressure-lowering medications increased up to four times.


The team found that the risk of heart attack and premature death among patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and no previous heart disease was roughly halved from 1996 to 2011.

Additionally, the difference in risk of heart attack and death for patients with diabetes, compared to the general population, was substantially reduced.

The study, led by Dr. Christine Gyldenkerne, was presented at the ESC Congress.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about a cure for type 2 diabetes, and why insulin is more expensive for people with diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about bone drugs that could lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and results showing eating more eggs is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

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