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

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Most people who have Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. aren’t managing risk factors for heart disease, according to a new analysis aimed at guiding doctors and patients on the latest methods to help.

Fewer than 1 in 5 adults with Type 2 diabetes who are not diagnosed with heart disease have healthy levels for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol and don’t smoke. 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 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. Social determinants of health, which includes health-related behaviors, socioeconomic factors, and environmental factors, have been recognized to have a profound impact on cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes outcomes.

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 healthy weight; not smoking; not drinking alcohol; and getting psychosocial care.

Doctors and patients need to work together on a personalized care plan. But helping patients manage their risks goes beyond what happens in the health care setting.

“One avenue to continue to address and advance diabetes management is through breaking down the four walls of the clinic or hospital through community engagement, clinic-to-community connections and academic-community-government partnerships that may help address and support modifiable lifestyle behaviors such as physical activity, nutrition, smoking cessation and stress management,” says Dr. Cameron Guild, interventional cardiologist with Baptist Heart.

For information on services and screenings offered at Baptist Heart, visit or call 601-968-1966.

Source: American Heart Association

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