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Physicians Rank Diabetes as Higher Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease Than Smoking, New Survey Finds; Disconnect in Knowledge Between Physicians and Diabetes Patients.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Physicians believe that having diabetes is the highest risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) -- ranking diabetes higher than smoking, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or obesity, according to survey findings presented today at the American Diabetes Association's 62nd Annual Scientific Sessions. Moreover, more than 90 percent of physicians surveyed reported that people with diabetes are "very" or "extremely" likely to have a cardiovascular event, according to a survey commissioned by the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Indeed, of the more than 17 million people living with diabetes, 65 percent will die from a heart attack or stroke.

Although physicians indicate that they typically discuss reducing risks for CVD with nearly all of their diabetes patients, they also report that their patients with diabetes are only moderately knowledgeable about their increased risks for cardiovascular disease. In fact, primary care physicians and endocrinologists believe their patients perceive amputation and blindness as the greatest risks of diabetes.

Previous research among people with diabetes (ADA/ACC, February 2002) revealed similar results, with 68 percent of diabetes patients reporting that they are not aware of their increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

"This survey of physicians shows that there is a high level of awareness among health care providers about the link between diabetes and heart disease, but it also confirms our concerns that patients with diabetes are not making this link and, as a result, are not taking steps to reduce their risks," said John Buse, M.D., chair of the Association's Cardiovascular Initiative entitled, Make the Link! Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke. "Physicians need to be much more aggressive in their approach to treating patients with diabetes. Diabetes is more than just managing blood glucose. It's also about managing blood pressure and cholesterol," Buse added.

The survey also indicates that physicians cite "poor compliance" with lifestyle modifications and challenges with multiple drug regimens as a barrier for treating CVD risk factors in patients with diabetes. This finding further reinforces the fact that diabetes is a complex disease.

"There is an enormous amount of responsibility that needs to come from both the patient and the doctor when treating any medical condition," said Robert L. Frye, M.D., Rose and Maurice Eisenberg Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic and member of the American College of Cardiology's advisory group to Make the Link!. "As physicians, we need to heighten the awareness among people with diabetes -- and those prone to developing diabetes -- about working closely with their physicians to aggressively reduce all of their cardiovascular risk factors, including smoking, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and lack of exercise."

Medical research now shows that people with diabetes can live longer and healthier lives with relatively small decreases in blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

"Education is vital," said James R. Gavin, Ph.D., M.D., chair-elect, National Diabetes Education Program, and senior scientific officer and director of the HHMI-NIH Research Scholars Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "This research shows that much more needs to be done to improve the understanding between physicians and their patients that good diabetes management is more than just lowering blood glucose."

The American Diabetes Association is a partner with the National Diabetes Education Program's (NDEP) Be Smart About Your Heart campaign, which promotes the ABCs of diabetes: A for the A1C test, a measure of average blood glucose over the last three months; B for blood pressure; and C for cholesterol: . Additionally, the Association and the American College of Cardiology are complementing the NDEP campaign by focusing on education and outreach to health care professionals via Make the Link! activities. These activities will extend the reach of the ABC message and will help facilitate improved discussion between patients with diabetes and their healthcare professionals. Such tools include a "Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor" list for patients, as well as public service announcements targeting patients, and advertisements in journals that reach physicians. A turnkey tool kit designed to assist health care providers in their discussions with patients about diabetes and heart disease will soon be available.

The survey of physicians was conducted by TargetRx, a marketing information services company, as part of the Make the Link! initiative. The survey of 900 physicians included approximately 700 Primary Care Physicians (PCP), 100 Cardiologists (CARD) and 100 Endocrinologists (ENDO). A self- administered survey was conducted online by a nationally representative sample of physicians recruited for the study.

The American Diabetes Association is the nation's leading voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy. Founded in 1940, the Association has offices in every region of the country, providing services to hundreds of communities.

The American College of Cardiology, a 28,000-member nonprofit organization, is the leading professional medical society and teaching institution for the nation's cardiovascular health care specialists. The College is dedicated to fostering optimal cardiovascular care disease prevention through professional education, promotion of research, leadership in the development of standards and guidelines, and the formulation of health care policy.

To learn more about the risks of cardiovascular disease for people with diabetes, call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit . The Make the Link! initiative is made possible by generous support from the following corporations: AstraZeneca LP, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., Inc. and Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, Monarch Pharmaceuticals and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and Pfizer Inc.


Contact: Diane Tuncer of the American Diabetes Association, +1-703-299-5510, or NEWS ROOM, June 14-18, 2002, Room #220, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA, +1-415-978-3733; or Lisa Clough of the American College of Cardiology, +1-301-897-2630

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Date:Jun 17, 2002
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