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Oct 23, 2018

Controlling Blood Sugar is Important for Heart Health

Managing blood sugar should be a key goal for patients with type 2 diabetes, explain experts.

While diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease, achieving blood sugar control can go a long way in reducing cardiovascular risk, based on a review published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The paper was part of the journal’s health promotion series, which highlights ways that we can reduce risk for heart disease. A recent issue focused on ways in which patients with type 2 diabetes can achieve blood sugar control and improve heart health.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, currently affecting nearly 28 million U.S. adults. It occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin properly. It is a known risk factor for heart disease—the No. 1 killer of American adults.

In total, the paper reviewed 44 high-quality studies on type 2 diabetes and blood sugar control. Articles were published between 2016 and 2017 and reflected the latest evidence from clinical trials.

After a thorough review, authors concluded that regulating blood sugar should be a key treatment goal for patients with diabetes. That’s because treatments to reduce blood sugar levels have been linked to a number of health benefits, such as weight loss and reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Some have also been shown to reduce risk for heart attack, stroke and heart-related death.

Treatments may include drugs like metformin or DPP-4 inhibitors, which work to reduce blood sugar levels. They may also be combined with healthy lifestyle changes like eating healthy and getting exercise, which help further control blood sugar and improve health.

But for patients with type 2 diabetes, achieving blood sugar control isn’t a quick fix. It’s a lifelong process, and according to authors, requires monitoring, support and guidance. Authors highlight the need for multidisciplinary teams, which include a group of experts that work together to help patients control their diabetes and reduce heart risks. Experts also encourage the use of these teams in community-based settings, which are accessible to patients.

With future research and better support, authors hope to improve both quality of life and outcomes for patients with diabetes.

Read the full article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Questions for You to Consider

  • Why is blood sugar control important for patients with diabetes?
  • Keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible can help prevent or slow the progress of many complications of diabetes. To get tight control, you should pay attention to diet and exercise, keep close track of blood glucose levels, and if you take insulin, closely manage your injection schedule.

  • What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce any insulin—a hormone that converts sugar into energy. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults and cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes, however, occurs when the body resists insulin or does not produce enough insulin, and can be prevented in some patients.

Infographic: Diabetes and Heart Disease Risk

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