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September 17, 2009

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Diabetes treatments don't ease heart risk

DRUGS used to control diabetes do not reduce signs of inflammation that are linked with heart disease, American researchers said in a study that reinforces the need for diet and exercise.

Both heart disease and diabetes are inflammatory diseases, and researchers had assumed that controlling diabetes would have an effect.

"At the time we initiated the trial, we were thinking if we treat the diabetes, we will lower inflammation," said Dr Aruna Pradhan of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday.

"This study suggests that lowering glucose alone does not impact one important risk factor for heart disease, and that is inflammation," Pradhan said.

She said the data may help explain the findings of a number of large studies in diabetics that found aggressive control of blood glucose did little to protect against heart attacks and stroke.

"Just simply treating diabetes does not seem to have a benefit at preventing these vascular events," she said.

An estimated 23.6 million people in the United States and 246 million people globally have diabetes. Most have type 2 diabetes, the kind linked with a poor diet and lack of exercise.

Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke than people without diabetes. Seventy-five percent of diabetics die from heart disease or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

Pradhan said her study confirms the need for diabetics to exercise and have a healthy diet and weight. Some may also need to take cholesterol-lowering drugs and aspirin to control their heart disease risk, as well as monitor their blood sugar.


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