Reviewed by Louise Chang on January 03, 2012

Sources

Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein, Medical Officer, Clinilabs Served as advisor to FDA Cardiovascular and Renal Drug Advisory Committee Author: Before It Happens to You: A Breakthrough Program for Reversing or Preventing Heart Disease

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Video Transcript

Jonathan Sackner Bernstein, MD: Your risk of a heart attack and stroke are higher to a level, to a degree that you really need to be much more aggressive about controlling blood pressure, controlling cholesterol and in fact, I would argue probably need to be even more aggressive controlling your average sugar level than even the guidelines suggest. So, diabetes is a problem because it makes you a person who is a much, much higher risk of developing a life threatening or life altering cardiovascular problem.

Narrator: What is it about high blood sugars that is so devastating to the organs in our systems..

Jonathan Sackner Bernstein, MD: Well when we think about diabetes and why it would cause a problem, the most obvious reason would be relating to the sugars. It's much more complicated than that, and there are many people who are trying to figure out exactly what the seminal, what the key point is that can be used for a target for a therapy. We know that controlling sugars does a terrific job of reducing risks and that has a lot to do with the fact that when there is more sugar in your system, those sugars can attach to proteins that then don't function normally. So that's part of it. But I think what most people who have diabetes don't appreciate is that diabetes should be considered a vascular disease as much as it is a disease of sugar metabolism. And when I say that it's a vascular disease, what I mean is that the diabetic person ends up with very, very abnormal control and metabolism and structure of the arteries of the body. So if you have abnormal arteries in your heart for example, because they don't respond normally to stress or because of the way cholesterol is deposited, that means that you have the set up for a heart attack because it is those plaques and the walls of the arteries that are abnormal that change the way blood flows within your heart and leads to a heart attack.