Those who have type 2 diabetes may have a higher risk of developing heart disease. According to new research published by the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation, even if diabetes patients have all risk factors under control, they are still at a higher risk for developing heart disease.
Previous studies have found that patients with type 2 diabetes had little to no risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events or death when all disease risk factors were controlled. However, this new research suggests that when looking at the degree of risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes, CVD risk and mortality are still higher than those with diabetes.
For the study, researchers analyzed data between 2006 and 2015 using two different sources. These were The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) and the Scottish Care Information-Diabetes (SCI-Diabetes) dataset with a link to hospital and mortality data. Researchers identified more than 101,000 people with type 2 diabetes who were matched with nearly 379,000 people without diabetes in CPRD and nearly 331,000 with type 2 diabetes in SCI-Diabetes.
To examine the association between future cardiovascular events and death among patients who had their risk factors optimally controlled, researchers focused on blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, blood glucose, and triglycerides. The presence of cardiorenal (heart and kidney) disease was also examined to determine if they may impact these connections.
Researchers found that only 6% of participants with type 2 diabetes had all five risk factors within the target range, which indicates how difficult it is to keep them optimally controlled. Even with all factors controlled, those with type 2 diabetes still had a 21% higher risk for CVD and a 31% higher risk of heart failure hospitalization than people without diabetes.
Alison Wright, Ph.D., first author of the study, concluded, “People with Type 2 diabetes should be treated for cardiovascular risk factors as early as possible, regardless of whether they have cardiovascular disease or not. There is real potential here to reduce the overall impact of Type 2 diabetes on future cardiovascular events, especially for patients with Type 2 diabetes who have not yet been diagnosed with CVD.”
While this study was able to suggest connections between CVD risk factors and type 2 diabetes, researchers caution that future work will need to be done to explore which individual factors have the greatest impact on cardiovascular risk. Once these risk factors have been identified, physicians will be better equipped to target these factors with specific interventions.
According to the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7, there are seven risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to achieve ideal cardiovascular health. These risk factors are listed as reducing blood sugar, managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, increasing physical activity, eating a healthy diet, weight loss, and quitting smoking. By implementing these lifestyle changes, diabetes patients can help to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease.