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November 2, 2001

As Diabetes Epidemic Surges, HHS and ADA Join Forces to Fight Heart Disease, the Leading Cause of Death for People With Diabetes

New Consumer Campaign Targets Blood Glucose, Pressure, Cholesterol.

 (SafetyAlerts) - 

A new emphasis on treating diabetes comprehensively -- that is, managing not only blood glucose, but also blood pressure, and cholesterol -- could save lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA). NDEP is co- sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marking November as National Diabetes Month, HHS and its partners are joining forces to inform the public that good diabetes management is more than lowering blood glucose. Control of blood pressure and cholesterol is crucial to help prevent heart disease and stroke, the leading killers of people with diabetes. New guidelines for blood pressure and LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes are lower than for the general population and similar to those for people with known heart disease. This new public awareness campaign comes in response to new studies that show a dramatic link between diabetes and heart disease. Research now shows that people with diabetes can live longer and healthier lives with relatively small decreases in blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.

"With 16 million people and counting, diabetes is growing at an alarming rate in America," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "Diabetes has increased 49% from 1990 to 2000 and projections indicate a 165% increase by the year 2050. If you have diabetes, you are at a very high risk for heart attack and stroke. But you can take control and lower your risk with this new treatment approach."

To communicate the importance of comprehensive care in simple language, the "ABCs of Diabetes" have been developed. The A stands for the A1C (A-one- see), or hemoglobin A1C test, which measures average blood glucose (sugar) over the previous 3 months. B is for blood pressure, and C is for cholesterol. This approach was developed because the vast majority of people with diabetes don't know that they are at very high risk of cardiovascular disease and that this risk can be greatly reduced with appropriate treatment. Research shows that 75 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease and stroke, and they die younger than the general population.

"The American Diabetes Association is delighted to support NDEP in getting the word out about the 'ABCs of Diabetes," said Dr. John Buse, Chair of the Association's Cardiovascular Initiative, entitled "Make the Link." "The ABCs of Diabetes is a clear message for both patients and healthcare providers that it's not just glucose that matters if you want to help prevent heart disease and stroke."

"People with diabetes know how important it is to control their blood glucose, but too little attention is paid to the role of cholesterol and blood pressure," said Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., NDEP spokesperson and director of the NIDDK at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "Research shows that this new approach, aggressively treating these three risk factors, can save lives."

Recommended Targets:

* A1C - less than 7 percent. Check at least twice a year.
* Blood pressure - below 130/80. Check at every doctor's visit.
* Cholesterol (LDL) - below 100. Check at least once a year.

Questions To Ask
* What are my A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers?
* What are my treatment goals?
* What do I need to do to reach and maintain my goals?

The same steps needed to control blood glucose work for controlling blood pressure and cholesterol: stay at a healthy weight; follow a healthy diet; get daily physical activity; don't smoke; and take prescribed medications.

NDEP and ADA have developed a new tool: a new brochure for people with diabetes that provides essential information and has a wallet card to help them track their ABC numbers. It's free, and part of a new, national public education campaign, Be Smart About Your Heart: Control the ABCs of Diabetes. To get the new brochure and the free wallet card and to learn more about diabetes, call 1-800-438-5383 or visit NDEP's Web site at or contact the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit .

The National Diabetes Education Program is jointly sponsored by NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 200 public and private partners.

The American Diabetes Association is the nation's leading voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy. Founded in 1940, the ADA has offices in every region of the country, providing services to more than 800 communities.

Source: PRNewswire.

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