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Study confirms intensive treatment of diabetic patients significantly reduces heart disease


Yet another proven benefit of tight glucose control for those with type 1 diabetes

New study results confirm, for the first time, that intensive treatment of diabetic patients results in a significantly lower risk of heart disease. In fact, it can cut the risk of cardiovascular disease nearly in half. Researchers say this is yet another proven benefit of the long-term effects of tight glucose control in patients with type 1 diabetes.

The new finding was announced on Sunday at the annual scientific meeting of the American Diabetes Association. The results stem from studying cardiovascular events in patients who took part in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and a follow-up NIH study. The original DCCT results reported in 1993 showed a 50-60 percent reduction in eye, kidney, and nerve disease. Now researchers also know this treatment helps reduce severe cardiovascular events.

"This is exciting news for those coping with diabetes. This intensive treatment of glucose control could allow them to live longer with less suffering," said Stanley Schwartz, MD, the principal investigator on the DCCT follow-up study, called the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC). Schwartz is also the Director of Diabetes Disease Management for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. "The EDIC study examined the long-term effects of an average of 6.5 years of conventional insulin treatment versus intensive insulin treatment."

Schwartz adds that before, with conventional treatments, the patient would receive 1-2 shots of insulin a day and occasional office visits and standard dietary reminders. In intensive treatment, patients are given 3-4 shots of insulin a day, frequent dietary reminders, monthly doctor’s appointments, and psychological support.

In results announced last Sunday, the ADA says among the more than 1,300 volunteers continuing to participate in the DCCT/EDIC study (which is a remarkable 93% of the original volunteer base), the intensively treated patients had a 57% reduction in the number of serious cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes -- compared to the conventionally treated group.

According to the ADA, the risk of heart disease is about 10 times higher in people with type 1 diabetes than in people without diabetes. About 18.2 million people in the United States have diabetes, the most common cause of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations in adults and a major cause of heart disease and stroke.

Susanne Hartman | EurekAlert!
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