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  health > heart > story pageAIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

Diabetes joins list of heart disease risk factors

Doctor with patient
According to the American Diabetes Association, half the people with type 2 diabetes have significant heart disease  
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    Source: WebMD
  • September 2, 1999
    Web posted at: 2:10 p.m. EDT (1810 GMT)

    From Correspondent Holly Firfer

    ATLANTA (CNN) -- Smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure already are considered major contributors to cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States. Now the American Heart Association, based on convincing evidence, has added diabetes to the list of controllable risk factors for heart disease and strokes.

    Fifty percent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have significant cardiovascular disease at the time of diagnosis. And 80 percent of diabetic deaths are due to cardiovascular disease.

    Betty Morgan, who has suffered from diabetes for eight years, knows firsthand the devastating effects of the disease. She took care of her health and monitored her disease but wasn't prepared for what happened two years ago when she woke in the middle of the night.

    "I really had a strange feeling. I felt like my skin on my face was separating from the rest of my body," she said. Morgan called her doctor, was sent to the hospital and had triple bypass surgery the next day.

    Nearly 16 million people with type 2 or "older onset" diabetes may face heart problems. Doctors predict the number will grow as people exercise less and become more obese, and as a large percentage of the population ages, including many minorities that have a higher risk of developing the disease.

    In type 1 or "juvenile" diabetes, the body does not make any insulin at all. It occurs most often in children and young adults. In type 2, which represents nine out of 10 cases of the disease, the body does not respond properly to the insulin it produces. It occurs most often in people 45 or older.

    Health researchers are focusing their efforts on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is starting a large clinical trial to study high blood sugar, high cholesterol and hypertension, all possible symptoms of diabetes and risk factors for heart disease.

    "What I think we will probably find in the short run is that more intensive therapy with multiple drugs will lead to substantial reduction of cardiovascular complications," the institute's Dr. Peter Savage said.

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    April 8, 1999

    American Diabetes Association
    American Heart Association
    Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation
    Diabetes Well
    Doctor's Guide to the Internet: Diabetes Information and Resources
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    External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

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