heart disease

Diabetes and Heart Risk: New Facts, Familiar Message

Craig Stoltz Health Guide August 15, 2007
  • A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association describes in scary detail the increased risks diabetics face of dying from serious heart disease.

     

    This should sound familiar. It may seem naggy.

     

    Trust me: There are useful, even potentially positive, takeaways. Let's look.

     

    Bottom line first

     

    Diabetics are far more likely to die of serious heart related events than non-diabetics.

     

    This study in 75 words or less

     

    Researchers pooled data from about 62,000 people treated for heart attacks (or unstable angina), and compared death rates of diabetics and non-diabetics. At 30 days and 1 year after treatment began, with both milder and severe heart events, diabetes deaths were far greater. Thirty days after a serious event, 8.5 percent of diabetics died, compared to 5.4 percent of non-diabetics.

     

    Yes, but. . .

     

    This is a very high quality study, with few caveats: A big population, credible researchers with no conflicts of interest, top-shelf journal. The data pooled was of people enrolled in clinical trails, so they were managed and tracked carefully.

     

    Like all studies of pooled data, this one can show only an association, not cause and effect. But an unambiguous link between diabetes and death needs no cause-and-effect proof to be meaningful--and motivating.

     

    The study did not look at the difference between those receiving different treatments for diabetes.

     

    So what are you going to do about it?

     

    Use this study as a good opportunity to talk with your cardiologist and/or endocrinologist about reducing cardiac risk and controlling blood sugar.

     

    Steps to reduce heart risk are very similar to those for diabetes: a healthy diet, caloric balance, and regular mild exercise. Other research has demonstrated that making even small changes along these lines improves a variety of important health measures, including abdominal obesity, hypertension, blood fats, even depression.

     

    Learn more

     

    Both our heart and diabetes areas offer expert answers, group support and credible information on managing risks with lifestyle changes, medications and devices.