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Home Industry News Early diabetes treatment ‘reduces’ heart risk

Early diabetes treatment ‘reduces’ heart risk

23rd December 2005

Intensive and early treatment of type one diabetes may substantially reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to US scientists.

A new multi-centre study shows that patients receiving treatment such as insulin pumps, multiple daily insulin injections and glucose monitoring as young adults reduced their risk of serious cardiovascular disease by almost 60 per cent.

Teams at UT Southwestern Medical Centre and 27 other US medical institutions analysed data from a long-term study of patients who took part in the diabetes control and complications trial (DCCT) more than a decade ago.

A further study of DCCT patients, the epidemiology of diabetes interventions and complications (EDIC) study, looked at the effects of early, aggressive treatment for type one diabetes compared to conventional blood glucose control.

Published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the research complements previous studies that have indicated that intensive glucose control prevents or delays eye, nerve and kidney damage, all of which are common complications of type one diabetes.

The original National Institutes of Health-funded trial began in 1983 and after six years researchers found the group of patients undergoing intensive treatment had longer-lasting health benefits, fewer health complications and lower blood glucose levels than conventionally treated patients.

Dr Philip Raskin, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, explained: “We reported short-term health benefits of early, intensive treatment, but at that time the patients weren’t old enough to experience some of the cardiovascular disease and events that can afflict older patients with type one diabetes.

“As that population has aged, the strategy of early intervention and aggressive control of the disease has shown tremendous health advantages.”

The medical expert added that aggressively treated patients still in the study had less than half the number of cardiovascular events than those in the conventionally treated group.

Dr Rankin concluded: “We don’t know why type one diabetes causes these complications. People who have it seem to have more problems with cardiovascular disease, particularly women. But now we know with intensive treatment, we can reduce this risk considerably.”

Affecting about one million people in the United States, type one diabetes occurs mostly in younger patients and is usually diagnosed before the age of 40. The disease is associated with lack of insulin and affects pancreatic islet cells.

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