Diabetes, Heart Associations Align Fight Against Heart Disease

January 2, 2007

In a joint statement released today, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and American Heart Association (AHA) summarize the evidence supporting lifestyle and medical interventions that can help to prevent the development of heart disease in people with diabetes.

The statement, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association’s clinical research journal Diabetes Care, outlines joint guidelines from the organizations that encourage more aggressive prevention and treatment of the risk factors that lead to heart disease, the number one killer of people with diabetes.

Traditional lifestyle changes for people with diabetes have focused on weight loss. These new joint guidelines emphasize a need for major interventions that more significantly reduce CVD risk factors. It continues to cite the importance of achieving a healthy lifestyle, based on increased physical activity, medical nutrition therapy, and weight control. In addition, the statement calls for increased medical interventions, such as the use of statins, ACE inhibitors, and other drugs to manage lipids, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. The recommendations apply equally to people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

These joint guidelines are part of an ongoing effort by the two organizations to coordinate efforts in the fight against cardiovascular disease, which affects two out of three people with diabetes.

“Diabetes is a deadly disease, but the truth is that most people who have it will actually die from heart disease, its most common and too often fatal complication,” said John Buse, M.D., Ph.D., President-Elect, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association, Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and co- author of the joint statement.

“Thanks to decades of research, we now know quite a bit about how to lower the risk for heart disease – whether you have diabetes or not. But these risk factors often aren’t treated aggressively enough, and the people who are living with diabetes aren’t benefiting from this knowledge. We hope this joint statement will encourage physicians to put this knowledge to use in a more consistent manner.”

“We must practice primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes,” said Henry Ginsberg, M.D., F.A.H.A., Irving Professor of Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and co-author for the American Heart Association.

“Once a person with diabetes has a heart attack or stroke, they do much worse than people without diabetes; if you have diabetes and have a heart attack, you don’t do as well after a stent or after bypass surgery, and your chance of dying in the next 12 months is much higher. Both associations have been very active in educating healthcare professionals about the links between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and so it was natural for us to join forces and provide a comprehensive review of the evidence, and guidelines based on that evidence,
for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in our patients with diabetes.”

People with diabetes are two to four times as likely as those in the general population to suffer cardiac events or stroke. They are also far less likely to survive a cardiac event should one occur, than someone who does not have diabetes. But their risk can be reduced, and these guidelines provide the needed information.

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Since 1940, our mission has been to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.