Diabetes heart risk

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: September 7th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Just by having the disease, people with diabetes are fifteen years older than their chronological age clinically speaking when it comes to their odds of developing heart disease.

University of Toronto researchers say that means a forty-year-old person with diabetes has the same risk of having a heart attack or stroke as a fifty-five-year-old person without the disease.

Their six-year study followed roughly three-hundred-seventy-five-thousand adults with either type one or type two diabetes and nearly nine-million adults without the disease. Researchers recorded all heart attacks and strokes for both groups and then used these numbers to calculate the risk.

All of us are at risk for heart disease us as we age. Still, the numbers for people with diabetes are sobering.

Men with diabetes usually move from moderate to high risk at about age forty-one. Women with diabetes reach that risk category at age forty-eight. People without diabetes usually don’t enter the high-risk zone until fifteen years later.

So what do the researchers recommend? For middle-aged and older people with diabetes who generally are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease to begin with they encourage more aggressive strategies to reduce risk.

These include moderate exercise and a healthy diet, cholesterol-lowering drugs, low-dose aspirin and blood-pressure-lowering drugs such as ACE inhibitors.

For those younger than forty who have diabetes and, generally speaking, a low-to-moderate risk the researchers suggest an individualized approach.

Most importantly, prevention should begin even earlier, experts say, with educational programs for children about the risks of diabetes.