Researchers Reveal New Thinking on Diabetes and Heart Risk

Controlling blood sugar is a critical part of diabetes care. But researchers now say that tight control could be overrated in preventing heart disease.

Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease. But while keeping blood sugar levels in check is known to prevent complications, including blindness -- tight control may not prevent heart attacks -- according to findings from several studies.

Las Vegas endocrinologist, Fred Toffel says the studies looked at older diabetics with underlying heart disease. The aggressive control did not prevent heart disease. They did not respond well to sudden and aggressive changes in treatment.

Dr. Toffel says, however, it has not been shown that the results would be the same for everyone.

"For someone who's young and unfortunately as you know, diabetes is coming at a much younger age, these studies didn't look at young people developing diabetes. And if early on we get them low and keep them low throughout their life span, are we doing any favors? I believe in those folks we definitely will," he said.

Dr. Toffel says extremely low blood-sugar levels is not a realistic goal in the first place. But keeping glucose levels in check will prevent serious complications.

Lifestyle factors, along with blood pressure and cholesterol, are other considerations in preventing heart disease.

That's according to findings presented at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting.


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