May 2010

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Diabetes and Risk for Heart Disease and Stroke

Having type 2 diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascularThe system of heart and vessels that circulates blood through the body. events, like stroke or heart attack. For nearly a decade, NIH has supported a large clinical trial called the ACCORD study. It aimed to find ways to reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events in adults with type 2 diabetes who are at especially high risk because of a previous heart attack, stroke or other reason.

One ACCORD trial involved more than 4,700 people who had diabetes and high blood pressure. They were asked to control their blood pressure with medications. Some were asked to target a standard blood pressure level, while others aimed for a lower level that’s considered normal in healthy people.

Lowering blood pressure to normal levels didn’t significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular events overall. However, it did appear to reduce the likelihood of stroke.

Another report looked at 5,500 patients to evaluate a combination of 2 types of drugs that can reduce blood levels of fatty molecules called lipids. A statin medication alone proved as beneficial as a combination of a statin and a fibrate medication.

“Although our analysis suggests that certain patients may benefit from combination therapy, this study provides important information that should spare many people with diabetes unneeded therapy with fibrates,” says Dr. Henry Ginsberg of Columbia University, who led ACCORD’s lipid trial.