Bad Timing: Diabetes and Your Heart

Duration of type 2 diabetes in men influences heart risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The length of time a man has diabetes may determine the risks to his heart health.

As diabetes brings with it a load of heart-related risks, British researchers wanted to find out if the amount of time someone has the disease affects the likelihood of heart disease and early death.

From a study that involved more than 4,000 older men, researchers found that all those who had type 2 diabetes faced a higher risk of heart attack and death, compared to men without diabetes. More significantly, they found that men who had diabetes for at least 10 years were just as likely to suffer a heart attack as non-diabetic men who have had a heart attack in the past.

dailyRx Insight: Having diabetes for a long period of time may lead to a greater risk of having heart problems.

In addition, the researchers - led by S. Goya Wannamethee, Ph.D., of University College London - found that a diabetic man's risk of heart attack increased the longer he had the disease. In fact, men who had diabetes for nearly 17 years were more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack compared to men without diabetes. That's the same risk as risk as men who have a history of heart attack.

Dr. Joseph V. Madia, who was not involved with the study, commented, "This is another important piece of research that demonstrates the negative impact of diabetes on cardiovascular health. I would encourage all men to actively take part in reducing their risks of developing diabetes, by quitting smoking, eating healthier, and exercising to lose those extra pounds."

In the United States each year, nearly 26 million individuals are affected by diabetes, with about seven million people going undiagnosed. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease with no cure in which a person has either high or low blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. Several groups of drugs, mostly given by mouth, are effective for Type 2. The therapeutic combination in Type 2 may include insulin. The great advantage of injected insulin in Type 2 is that patients can adjust the dose according to blood glucose levels, usually measured with a simple meter. Along with the presence of physical symptoms, a common blood test known as the A1c can test for the disease.

The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine

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Review Date: 
March 15, 2011
Last Updated:
March 17, 2011