Many Diabetes Patients Unaware of Heart Disease Risk
More than two-thirds of Americans with diabetes "do not realize they have a much higher than normal risk" of heart disease and stroke, a new survey released yesterday found. Reuters/Los Angeles Times reports that according to the survey, individuals with diabetes also "seem not to know" that they can reduce their risk for heart disease with exercise, a healthy diet and prescription drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol (Reuters/Los Angeles Times, 2/20). The survey, commissioned by the American Diabetes Association, found that "diabetics are more aware of and worried about disabilities" prompted by diabetes -- such as blindness or amputation -- than about heart disease and stroke, even though the latter conditions are the "leading killers of diabetics." According to the survey, the results "may largely be ... doctors' fault." The survey, which included interviews with 2,008 diabetics between August 2001 and October 2001, found that 52% said their health provider had never discussed a regimen to reduce blood pressure and 45% had received no advice on lowering cholesterol. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said that the survey "reinforces the need to help people with diabetes understand their increased risk for heart disease and stroke and what they can do to reduce those risks" (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 2/20). ADA President Christopher Saudek said, "It is very alarming to learn that 68% of people with diabetes are unaware of the link between diabetes and heart disease and stroke. Consequently, they are unlikely to be doing what they need to save their lives" (HHS release, 2/19). Thompson used the "dismal results" of the survey to promote the HHS "ABCs of Diabetes" campaign, which urges individuals with diabetes to have a regular A1c test to measure blood sugar levels, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol tests (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 2/20).