Heart disease strikes people with diabetes more than twice as often as it strikes people without diabetes. In fact, two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. And yet, a recent survey showed that 68 percent of people with diabetes are unaware of their increased risk for heart disease or stroke.
The American Diabetes Association and American College of Cardiology launched an initiative called "Make the Link! Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke" to help people with diabetes learn how they can reduce their chances for having a heart attack or stroke.
One key way to reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke is to manage the ABCs of diabetes:
•A is for the A1C test, the blood test that measures blood glucose (sugar) over the last two to three months. –Target range: less than 7 percent
•B is for blood pressure –Target range: less than 130/80
•C is for cholesterol –Target range: LDL (bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg/dl
Additionally, studies have shown that use of an ACE inhibitor, a class of drugs used to treat blood pressure, decreases the rates of death from heart disease and stroke among people with diabetes.
The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation study included 3,500 patients with diabetes over the age of 55 with at least one other risk factor for heart disease. Other cardiovascular risk factors include high blood pressure, high total cholesterol, low HDL (good cholesterol), and smoking. This study, which used the ACE inhibitor ramipril, showed that people with diabetes over the age of 55 could reduce their risk for heart attack, stroke and death by adding an ACE inhibitor to their treatment plan.
In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends that all people with diabetes over the age of 55 with high blood pressure or another cardiovascular risk factor be prescribed an ACE inhibitor.
If you have diabetes, are over 55 years of age and have other cardiovascular risk factors, ask your health care provider if an ACE inhibitor should be part of your treatment plan. And, work together to develop a diabetes treatment plan that works for you.