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Heart Disease Dips in Diabetes Patients

CDC Notes 11% Drop in Percentage of Diabetes Patients Reporting Heart Disease
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 1, 2007 -- The CDC today reported two pieces of good news about diabetes:

  1. The percentage of U.S. adults with diabetes who report having heart disease dropped 11% between 1997 and 2005.
  2. About 63% of diabetes patients report checking their blood glucose level at least daily, up from nearly 41% in 1997.

Those findings appear in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Diabetes and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. men and women, and diabetes worsens the odds.

"Adults with diabetes are at greater risk for dying from heart disease than adults without diabetes," states the CDC.

The CDC's latest data on diabetes and cardiovascular disease come from annual surveys conducted from 1997 to 2005.

In each survey, about 31,000 to 36,000 adults aged 35 and older were asked if they had ever been told been told by a doctor or other health professional if they had any of these conditions:

CDC's Findings

The surveys show a 36% increase in the number of people who reported having diabetes and cardiovascular disease -- from 4.2 million in 1997 to 5.7 million in 2005.

But that figure doesn't tell the whole story. Diabetes is on the rise in the U.S., so the CDC dug deeper into the data.

Among people aged 35 and older with diabetes, the percentage of those who reported having heart disease dropped 11%, from about 36% in 1997 to 32% in 2005.

That pattern was even stronger for African-Americans -- who had a 25% drop in the percentage reporting heart disease and diabetes -- and for women, who had an 11% drop in the percentage reporting both of those conditions.

The percentage for whites and men didn't change.

Why the drop in self-reported heart disease among diabetes patients? They may have improved their cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as not smoking, notes the CDC.

Blood Sugar Check

The CDC also reports that the U.S. has surpassed a key diabetes goal four years ahead of schedule.

The goal is for at least 61% of people with diabetes to check their blood glucose level at least once daily by the year 2010.

The U.S. passed that benchmark last year, when about 63% of adults with diabetes -- and nearly 87% of those who use insulin -- reported checking their blood glucose at least once daily.

Women, high school graduates, people taking diabetes drugs, people with health insurance, patients who've taken a diabetes education class, and people who see a doctor at least once a year were more likely than others to check their blood glucose level at least daily.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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