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New findings uncover important numbers for cutting diabetes heart risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
New study reveals importance of blood pressure, cholesterol risks for diabetes

If you’re living with diabetes, there are two numbers that must be kept in check to lower your risk of heart disease that are even more important than blood sugar levels. According to new findings from a Kaiser Permanente study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, meeting guidelines for cholesterol and blood pressure control are even more important for stopping diabetes related heart disease than controlling blood sugar levels.

Among 26,000 people included in the study, those who kept blood pressure and cholesterol levels within recommended guidelines had the least chance of being hospitalized for heart attack or stroke.

The researchers say the two factors are the biggest contributors to heart disease among people living with diabetes that surpass the risks of cardiovascular events associated with high blood sugar levels.

In the study, even people who controlled their blood sugars levels were more likely to be hospitalized for either one of the complications.

Greg Nichols, Ph.D., lead author of the study and senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research said in a press release the finding doesn’t mean you can ignore your blood sugar. Instead, the finding highlights the importance of paying attention to other factors that can increase heart and stroke risks.

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Most people with diabetes focus on blood sugar control. Researchers know blood pressure and cholesterol are also important numbers to watch. But until now it’s been unclear which factors contribute the most to heart risks for diabetics.

The study is the first to look at diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure at the same time as risk factors for heart disease that according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service is a leading cause of death for people living with the disease.

The finding showed maintaining blood sugar within normal limits, blood pressure less than 130/80 and LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) less than 100 mg/d lowered the likelihood of hospitalization for diabetes related heart disease.

Hospitalization rates were 2.5 times lower for patients with diabetes who focused on meeting all 3 targets of HgA1C level less than 7.0, controlling blood pressure and keeping bad LDL cholesterol levels at or below recommended target.

Speak with your doctor about taking medications that can help manage your risks for diabetic heart disease. Focus on exercise and limit salt in the diet. Above all, know your numbers by getting regular lab work and then discussing the results with your doctor so you can take action.

Kaiser Permanente
January 28, 2013

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