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Diabetes and Heart Disease Often Go Hand In Hand

Understanding their strong correlation can help encourage prevention

DAYTON, Ohio (October 18, 2013) – Someone who has just found out they have diabetes could soon be adding heart disease to their diagnosis. That’s because diabetes is just as much about heart health as it is about high blood sugar – a truth that is proven in numbers.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 cause of death and disability among people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, at least 65 percent of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease or stroke. Moreover, adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes.

“There is a very strong relationship between diabetes and heart disease,” said Saadeddine Dughman, MD, cardiologist at Advanced Cardiovascular Institute, a Premier Health Specialists practice in Middletown. “It’s a well-known fact that diabetics have an increased risk of heart disease.  They are so interrelated that the National Cholesterol Education Program puts diabetes on their list equivalent to heart disease.  Meaning, if someone has diabetes then we automatically look at them as if they already have heart disease.”

The exact reason for the strong correlation between the two diseases is not yet known except that high blood sugar over time can have a significant impact on the health of one’s vessels and arteries, especially in the heart and brain. Moreover, patients who have diabetes often have higher incidences of many of the cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, Dr. Dughman said.

It is estimated that as many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue. Type 2 diabetes – in which the body gradually loses its ability to use and produce insulin – accounts for up to 95 percent of those cases, the CDC said.

The good news is that diabetics have the power to direct the course of their health. The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association consider diabetes to be one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The other controllable risk factors include tobacco use, physical inactivity, poor diet, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Ann DeClue, MD, a Premier HealthNet primary care physician practicing in Lebanon, said it is several times a day that she has a patient come into her office who is dealing with both diabetes and heart disease. Dr. DeClue, who specializes in risk assessment and early detection of cardiac disease, said there has been an increase in the amount of individuals with type 2 diabetes, in particular, and she attributes that to poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

“Adopting a healthy lifestyle plays a critical role in delaying the onset of diabetes and keeping it controlled so that one can avoid damage to the heart, kidney, brain and vessels throughout the body,” DeClue said. “Even though we have a lot of medications to treat diabetes and heart disease, we still need to focus first of all on lifestyle changes. It is unfortunate that a lot of people have difficulty with that, but every time I see a diabetic patient we always go back to that baseline focus.”
 
To learn more about diabetes or Premier HealthNet, visit www.premierhealthnet.com/doctor.

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