Reports From the Field: Diabetics not aware of heart disease risk, study says

A survey of people with diabetes showed that 68% are unaware they are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke and also are unaware of ways to reduce their risk for serious complications.

Three-fourths of those surveyed reported having risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol or hypertension, but they did not relate the problems to their diabetes. More than half said they did not feel at risk for a heart condition or stroke, and nearly two-thirds did not feel at risk for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

About half said that their health care provider had never discussed ways they could reduce their risks for heart disease and stroke, such as lowering their blood pressure or cholesterol or quitting smoking.

"This research clearly illustrates the gap between perception and reality. The harsh reality is if you have diabetes, you have a two to four times greater likelihood of having a heart attack than if you do not have diabetes. People with diabetes need to know that good diabetes management is more than just lowering blood glucose," says Christopher D. Saudek, MD, president of the American Diabetes Association.

The study was part of the Make the Link! Initiative, a joint project of the American College of Cardiology and the American Diabetes Association. The initiative focuses on education and outreach to health care professionals.

For more information, visit the American Diabetes Association web site at www.diabetes.org/makethelink.