Since 1995 - Non Profit Healthcare Advice

Diabetes and Heart Disease

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting people in the United States.

Diabetes Today

The vast majority, 90-95% of cases of diabetes are Type II Diabetes Mellitus, with 5-10% developing Type I Diabetes Mellitus. Currently, nearly 26 million people suffer from diabetes, of which 7 million adults are undiagnosed. Even more worrisome is the nearly 79 million adults aged 20 years or older who are considered pre-diabetic. There are 1.9 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed annually.1

Complications of Diabetes

Diabetes is the leading cause of:

  • Adult blindness
  • End stage renal disease
  • Non-traumatic amputations (not caused by an accident)

The Connection Between Diabetes and Heart Disease

If this were not enough, the association of diabetes and heart disease is a common, but frequently misunderstood and worse yet, poorly treated disorder. Most do not realize that diabetes involves not only elevations on glucose (carbohydrate) levels, but also a metabolic disorder of lipids (fats) and protein metabolism as well, which leads to a significantly increased heart disease risk. Considering the way diabetes contributes to heart disease, it’s no surprise that it’s the leading cause of death in the United States.2

Both Type II and Type I are associated with increased risk of heart disease and heart disease prevention guidelines apply to both types, yet the best approaches and treatments vary a great deal.

In order to successfully decrease complications of Type I Diabetes Mellitus, mere replacement of insulin can be instrumental in dimishing many of the known complications.

Type II, however, is more complex and insulin replacement is often a later therapy employed, if ever. Targets of therapy include:

  • Overcoming insulin resistance and minimizing excessive insulin levels.
  • Recognizing and treating several other heart disease risk factor abnormalities such as blood pressure and high cholesterol and triglycerides in blood (dyslipidemia).

Most patients with diabetes are unaware of the enhanced clotting nature of their blood as a result of these many metabolic abnormalities. Patients with diabetes have a two to three fold increased prognosis following any heart attack or unstable angina, than non-diabetics who are of similar ethnicity, race, gender, etc.

Studies have indicated that glucose levels are a continuous risk factor for heart disease. In fact, it is estimated that for every 1% increase in hemoglobin in the blood (HbA1c) there is a 10-30% increase of heart disease. A few recent studies have suggested that reducing glucose levels lower risk of heart disease.

The ACCORD Study

In an effort to objectively evaluate the heart disease imposed by diabetes, the National Institutes of Health sponsored the ACCORD Trial (Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk Reduction). It was designed in the late 90’s and began in 2001. After the near decade of clinical care, event data collection and different treatment goals, we may finally have greater insight into the diabetes metabolism problems that lead to increased heart disease and the benefits of treatments according to existing guidelines and beyond.

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2011


2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –FastStats Leading Causes of Death, 2011

Hope Through Research – You Can Be Part of the Answer!

Many research studies are underway to help us learn about eye diseases. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:

More features about Diabetes:

For more information:

Go to the Diabetes health topic.