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Heart Care Below Par in Older Diabetics: Study

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2007

A low proportion of elderly individuals newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes receive heart-protecting drugs like aspirin, blood pressure-lowering drugs and cholesterol-lowering drugs, according to a new study. 

People with diabetes are at increased risk for developing heart and vascular disease. The results of the current study suggest that the management of cardiovascular risk for type 2 diabetes patients is "less than appropriate," the study team concludes in the journal Diabetes Care this month.

In a study of more than 12,000 patients, the researchers found that only about 22 percent received a heart-protecting anti-clotting drug like aspirin in the year after anti-diabetes medication was begun. Only about 40 percent received an antihypertensive and 21 percent received a cholesterol-lowering drug, the investigators report.

Only 7.6 percent received a comprehensive cardioprotective regimen including all three types of medication, they found.

Study investigator Dr. Jean-Pierre Gregoire, from Laval University, Quebec City, stated that, "Treating a diabetic person is important. However, controlling (blood sugar) should not be the only treatment goal even in people aged 65 years or over.” 

Gregoire suggested that doctors "may not be sufficiently aware of the benefits of treating elderly individuals with diabetes using cardioprotective medications. Given their life-expectancy, these individuals can also benefit from pharmacologic cardiovascular protection," the researcher said.

"Elderly individuals with diabetes should also be sensitized to the fact that, relative to those who don't suffer from diabetes, they have an increased cardiovascular risk," Gregoire added.

He noted that the number of type 2 diabetics is likely to increase in this age group in the next decade. "If the actual situation continues to prevail, in the future the suboptimal use of medications in elderly type 2 diabetics may entail substantial healthcare resources," Gregoire concluded.

Source: Diabetes In Control: Diabetes Care July 2007

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