Questioning Diabetic Heart Disease Risk

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April 18, 2002 -- It's been widely thought that people with diabetes were as likely to have heart problems as someone who had already had a heart attack. Now, a group of Scottish researchers says that's not true.

In their two studies, the researchers examined the hospital records of more than 4,600 people with type 2 diabetes and 8,700 people who had already had a heart attack. Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in adults, as opposed to type 1, which is usually noticed during childhood.

Heart disease is seen more in diabetics than in the general population, but the researchers wanted to find out how the risk of a heart attack compared with people who were known to already have heart disease.

The researcher's findings? Patients with type 2 diabetes were less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease than patients who had previously had a heart attack, according to lead author Josie M.M. Evans, MPH, PhD, epidemiologist at the University of Dundee, Scotland.

The researchers aren't saying that diabetics shouldn't be concerned about their risk of heart disease. On the contrary, people with diabetes need to continue to be vigilant about controlling their blood sugar, their weight, and their cholesterol to prevent heart problems.

However, this study does show that the risk may not be quite as great as once suspected.

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