Diabetes Treatments May Increase Risk of Heart Disease

by Jodee on March 19, 2010

BloodPressureIf you are one of the 21 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, your doctor’s advice about how to reduce the risk of heart disease may be ineffective. It may even make it more likely that you will have cardiac issues, according to the results of a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

Complications of Diabetes

Patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have unusually high levels of sugar in their bodies, which can lead to a number of health problems. Diabetes can cause a number health complications, including:

  • Depression
  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Diabetic retinopathy, which causes blindness
  • Eating disorders
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Eye problems (glaucoma and cataracts)
  • Foot ulcers or infections
  • Kidney failure
  • Skin infections

The most common cause of death for people with Type 2 diabetes is heart attack. Even though people with diabetes only account for nine percent of the population in the U.S., between 25-33 percent of people who experience a heart attack are diabetic.

Treating Diabetes to Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Since having high blood sugar levels increases the likelihood of having a heart attack, doctors have advised patients with diabetes to be vigilant about controlling their blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, this measure on its own did not reduce the risk of heart disease, since patients with diabetes tend to have other health issues that contribute to the risk of heart disease:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High triglyceride levels


Lowering Blood Pressure

A group of participants in a study conducted by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Memphis were given medication to bring their blood pressure down to a normal level (a systolic pressure of no more than 120). The results of the study indicated that patients were at risk for having blood pressure that was too low, as well as elevated potassium levels, which can lead to kidney failure. The study also found that the patients who were instructed to bring their blood pressure down increased their risk of heart attack and stroke by a whopping 50 percent.

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