Pyramid Science

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Diabetes And Cardiovascular Disease

Statistics have shown that diabetes can increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by up to eight times (British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK). However, many people with diabetes are unaware of this added danger to their health and are consequently doing nothing to protect themselves. Although cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as heart attacks and stroke, remains the UK's biggest killer there has been a steady decrease in the number of deaths caused by CVD over the last twenty years. The charities' Diabetes Statistics Supplement 2001 sounds a warning that the decrease is unlikely to continue, unless the diabetes time-bomb is diffused. Women aged 40-59 with diabetes are up to eight times more likely to develop CVD, while the risk for men is five-fold. Therefore, it is even more important that people with the condition adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately many people continue to smoke or do little physical activity because they are unaware of the extra risk to their heart caused by their condition. In addition people with diabetes need to have their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly.

Around 1.4 million people in the UK are diagnosed with diabetes, but this is just the tip of the iceberg and the two charities estimate that the true figure could be twice as high. The number of people with Type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes is rapidly increasing and this number is set to double by 2010.

  • "Managing your weight and taking regular exercise, such as walking briskly for at least half an hour a day, helps to reduce the risk of developing both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Following a low fat diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, not smoking and ensuring that your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are good are also vital in combating these closely linked conditions."
Diabetes occurs when the level of glucose in the blood is too high and nine out of ten people with the condition have Type 2 diabetes. In many cases, this can be prevented by reducing weight and increasing physical activity levels since lack of exercise and being overweight also increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Diabetes also has other negative effects on the heart: a high level of glucose in the blood can raise the cholesterol level and can damage the arteries of people with the condition. The heart muscle and nerves can also be affected.

  • "Diabetes also needs to be diagnosed earlier as too many people are being diagnosed too late. There are currently as many people in the UK with undiagnosed diabetes as there are with diagnosed diabetes. Targeted screening for those at high risk of diabetes would help to reduce these numbers and help people avoid serious complications such as CVD."
Suzanne Lucas, Director of Care at Diabetes UK

  • "The predicted doubling of diabetes by 2010 and the resulting rise in CVD are not inevitable. We know how to prevent them. Now is the time to act together to save lives."
Professor Sir Charles George

A patient booklet has also been produced to help patients with diabetes reduce their heart disease risk. For a free copy of the BHF's booklet Diabetes and Your Heart (download) write to the BHF at 14 Fitzhardinge Street, London W1H 6DH or call 020 7935 0185. The Diabetes Statistics Supplement 2010 can be downloaded at no cost from


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