Drug Mix May Tame Diabetes Heart Risk

Type 2 diabetes raises heart
risks, and it may be possible to cut that risk by taking a multi-pronged
approach instead of just focusing on blood sugar. And the sooner, the
better.

That's the message from a new Danish study of 160 adults with type 2
diabetes and microalbuminuria, which is a sign that their diabetes had started
to affect their kidneys.

Half of the patients got conventional drug treatment for their diabetes. The
other half got intensive treatment, which included blood pressure drugs, cholesterol -lowering statin
drugs, and aspirin, as well as drugs to control their blood sugar.

The patients were followed for 13 years. During that time, 24 patients in
the intensive therapy group died, compared with 40 patients in the conventional
treatment group.

Compared with patients who received conventional treatment, patients in the
intensive treatment group were 46% less likely to die of any cause, 57% less
likely to die of a heart problem, and 59% less likely to suffer a heart attack , stroke, or other
cardiovascular event.

It's not clear which aspect of the intensive treatment was most
important.

The patients in the intensive treatment group were also supposed to eat a
low-fat diet, quit
smoking , and get 30 minutes of exercise several times a week. But they
didn't, which may mean they missed out on further cutting their risk of heart
problems and death.

"Despite enormous efforts to change lifestyle in the intensive arm, we
were not successful in this study of middle-aged and elderly people,"
Professor of Medicine Oluf Pedersen, MD, DMSc, of Denmark's Steno Diabetes
Center, tells WebMD by email. "Lifestyle should be changed at much younger
ages."

"It's not enough to just know
your blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. You need to take
action and do something about those risk factors" early on and stick
with it, Pedersen says.

The report appears in tomorrow's edition of The New England Journal of
Medicine
.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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