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New Treatments for Diabetes to Be Unveiled

Diabetes and Heart Disease: Partners in Crime

Probably the biggest chunk of research presented at the conference will focus on increasing evidence that links diabetes and heart disease. To increase public awareness of the link, the ADA will announce at the meeting the launch of its Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease Initiative, a three-year effort that corresponds with a similar plan, the government's National Diabetes Education Program.

Such campaigns are necessary because even though most people with diabetes seem to be aware of their increased risk for heart disease, they're not doing much of anything to protect themselves, says Corkey, director of the Obesity Research Center at Boston Medical Center.

As the meeting progresses, WebMD will cover new research that confirms her statement: One study, for instance, will show that the majority of people with diabetes and high blood pressure maintain inadequate control of their blood pressure, and that less than half of them are taking the gold-standard drugs to help keep their blood pressure in check.

Another disturbing study will show that not only are diabetics doing a relatively poor job of controlling their blood pressure and cholesterol, the situation today is not much better than it was in years past, despite an enormous amount of public health efforts to educate patients of the importance of such monitoring and control.

"The new data show that there is much poorer control of risk factors for cardiovascular disease among people with diabetes," says Corkey. "I am astonished to realize this, because one would have thought that these people would be carefully followed and monitored, but apparently not."

The payoff for keeping blood sugar controlled is enormous. For instance, one study in the pipeline for the ADA meeting will show how tightly controlled blood sugar can help prevent thinning of artery walls -- known to be a risk factor for heart disease.

Corkey calls the evidence these researchers and others will provide "astounding, outstanding, and extremely important.

"Diabetes is a disease ... where the patient has to, in part, become their own physician and participate in their care and take responsibility," she continues. "They have to be as involved in their care as their physicians are."

Heart disease and diabetes are so closely connected that past ADA president Gerald Bernstein, MD, goes so far as to say that diabetes may actually be a form of heart disease. That explains, he tells WebMD, the emphasis on cardiovascular disease at this meeting, especially as it threatens patients with type 2 diabetes.

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