Talk to your doctor about your heart health, it could save your life

People with type 2 diabetes could decrease their risk of heart disease by up to 15% and their risk of heart failure by about 25% by talking to their GP and using currently available treatment, leading American cardiologist Professor Darren McGuire said today.

Despite the existence of proven, effective treatments – heart disease remains one of the most common killers of people with diabetes and this is a major concern with over 1.1 million Australians currently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

A low level of awareness among people with diabetes about the risk of heart disease is a major contributor to poor health outcomes. Research by Diabetes Australia has found:

  • Almost 66% of people with type 2 diabetes didn’t know cardiovascular disease was the biggest killer of people with diabetes
  • Only 12% thought they were personally at risk of cardiovascular disease and only 6% thought they were at risk of having a heart attack
  • The good news is 99% of people surveyed would take steps to reduce their risk if they were aware.

Professor McGuire, a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is speaking at the 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide about the latest diabetes medicines and their impact on cardiovascular outcomes in people with diabetes.

He said it was crucial people with diabetes talked to their GP about how they could reduce their risk of heart disease.

“People with type 2 diabetes are between two and four times more likely to develop heart disease and that’s why it is critical they talk about these risks with their healthcare team,” he said.

“My advice is simple. Talk to your doctor or healthcare team and it could save your life.

“Heart disease is a real and present danger for people with diabetes, but the real tragedy is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Proven treatments exist – but people need to be able to access them.

“Firstly, make sure you are getting enough physical activity and do what you can to ensure you are a healthy weight. Second, take steps to reduce your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and get on top of your blood pressure.

“Finally, some of the new medicines and therapies developed to lower blood glucose for people with type 2 diabetes have been demonstrated to reduce people’s risk of heart disease and related complications by an average of about 15%.

“There are up to 33,000 diabetes-related heart attacks in Australia every year, however if everyone with diabetes talked to their GP about reducing their risk we could prevent thousands of heart attacks and hospitalisations for heart failure and reduce the impact on Australia’s healthcare system.”

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said much more needs to be done to raise awareness of the risks of heart problems for people with diabetes and ensure access to the best programs and treatments to help prevent premature cardiovascular deaths in people with diabetes.

“Heart disease is the number one cause of death for people with type 2 diabetes, but most people don’t know this. This is why we want people to talk to their doctor or health professional and follow the advice.” Professor Johnson said.

“We are asking people to Take Diabetes 2 Heart and have a serious conversation with their loved ones and/or their GP about what they can do to reduce their risk.”

Visit the Take Diabetes 2 Heart website at www.takediabetes2heart.com.au to find out more including advice on how you can have a heart-to-heart about heart health with a loved one living with diabetes.

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