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Connection between Diabetes Treatment and Heart Disease

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Diabetes Treatment and Heart Disease

Connection between Diabetes Treatment and Heart Disease

February 11, 2008
By: Dan Weiman for Diabetes1
 
Diabetes has always been a cause of other health complications for those with the disease. It has been known to cause problems with liver function, kidney function, blindness, and a host of other conditions. A recently-released study called Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes, or ACCORD, found a depressing link between the treatment of diabetes and the development of heart disease.
 
The study’s results may not come as a surprise for some, as heart disease and stroke are the cause of death for 65 percent of people with diabetes. While heart disease has been an ongoing problem for diabetics, the ACCORD study brings into question the very basis of treatment for many: the aggressive control of blood sugar levels through insulin treatment.
 
Take Action
Applying Results of a Study to Your Diabetes Management :
  • Talk with your doctor about your treatment. Find out how aggressively your doctor is treating you for diabetes, and his or her reasons for treating you this way. Remember, this study is the first to show anything but positive results for keeping a consistently low blood sugar level.
  • Keep an eye out for other studies yielding similar results. This study was groundbreaking largely because it contradicts years of medical evidence. If similar studies don’t yield similar results to the ACCORD study, then the ACCORD study could be flawed.
  • Maintain your current treatment. Acting out of fear could cause medical problems as a result of out of control blood sugar levels. Always ask your doctor first if you are thinking about altering your medication.
  • The results of the study have had an immediate impact on the diabetic community and researchers working on new treatments. The federal government moved quickly to halt a clinical trial in which patients were aggressively maintaining near-normal blood sugar levels, switching the patients to a less-aggressive treatment.
     
    Over the course of the ACCORD study, doctors kept track of roughly 10,000 people who were aggressively maintaining near normal blood sugar levels as well as those who were being treated more traditionally. Of those 10,000 people, 257 patients who were on aggressive treatment died due to heart disease, as opposed to 203 deaths for those who were using standard treatment. Doctors could not find a reason to explain the discrepancy in the amounts, or why aggressive treatment could increase heart disease.
     
    The discoveries of the study have caused some alarm and disappointment within the diabetic community. For decades, close control of blood sugar levels was considered to be the most effective way to treat the disease and avoid complications. “Everything else has suggested, for 50 years or more, that tight control was good,” said Dr. James Dove, president of the American College of Cardiology. “We've got half a century of literature that is put on the back burner right now by one study... It may not be the final decision.”
     
    The findings of the ACCORD study come just months after a New England Journal of Medicine article and study revealed that a very common diabetes drug increased the chance of heart disease in patients. While the study may not be the final word on aggressive diabetes treatment, it does raise concerns that are important to discuss with a healthcare provider if you or a loved one has diabetes.
     
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