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Adults With Diabetes Doing Better Prevention Job

U.S. studies show they're keeping good track of daily blood sugar levels, while avoiding heart disease

THURSDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer American adults with diabetes are developing cardiovascular disease, and more of them are closely monitoring their blood sugar levels, according to new U.S. government research released Thursday.

Two U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies, published in the CDC's weekly journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, delivered the good news on the first day of National Diabetes Awareness Month.

One study of diabetes patients aged 35 and older found that the self-reported prevalence of cardiovascular disease decreased by more than 11 percent between 1997 and 2005. Cardiovascular disease among black adults with diabetes, who tend to have higher diabetes rates than whites or Hispanics, decreased by more than 25 percent during the period.

The study also found a 14 percent reduction (31.1 percent to 26.7 percent) in self-reported cardiovascular disease among adults ages 35 to 64 with diabetes. This age group accounts for the majority of all new diagnosed cases of diabetes among adults.

The overall decrease may be due to declining rates of such cardiovascular disease risk factors as smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, along with increased use of such preventive treatments as daily aspirin, said the researchers, who analyzed self-reported data from the National Health Interview Survey.

Heart disease and stroke account for about 65 percent of deaths in people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die of heart disease than adults without diabetes.

"While the trends in this report are very encouraging, it is important that we continue to take steps to help prevent and control diabetes, which will also aid in the fight against cardiovascular disease," study lead author Nilka Burrows, of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, said in a prepared statement.

The second study found that adults with diabetes who checked their blood glucose levels at least once a day increased by more than 22 percent between 1997 and 2006.

An analysis of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance system revealed that more than 63 percent of adults with diabetes checked their blood glucose at least once daily in 2006, surpassing the 61 percent goal outlined in the federal government's Healthy People 2010 program.

Control of blood glucose is critical for managing diabetes and preventing diabetes-related complications such as heart disease, foot and leg amputation, and retinopathy, which can lead to blindness, researchers noted.

"People are taking better advantage of a tool that can aid in making critical decisions about how to treat their diabetes. Continued education about diabetes self-management can help ensure that people have the knowledge to continue -- or start -- taking steps to prevent or control diabetes," study lead author Liping Pan said in a prepared statement.

In 2005, according to CDC statistics, approximately 21 million persons in the United States had diabetes.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about diabetes control.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Nov. 1, 2007

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