Studies are showing that the link between cardiovascular disease and type 1 (juvenile) diabetes – particularly among women – has been significantly underestimated, according to an article in the latest edition of Countdown, the quarterly journal of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). One study, known as the Diabetes UK Cohort, is the most comprehensive of its kind and has produced a number of startling statistics of the risk of cardiovascular complications in women and young people with type 1 diabetes
According to Countdown, among the most important trends established from the UK Cohort study is that cardiovascular disease can begin to develop at an early age for people with type 1 diabetes. The implications of this new information is far reaching for millions, particularly women since, according to the study, young women (under age 45) with type 1 diabetes are highly susceptible to fatal heart disease, despite this focus group’s normal ability to fend off cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, in the study’s 20-39 age group, the risk of cardiovascular death for type 1 diabetics was proved to be more than seven times higher for women and five times higher for men.
Historically, research into reversing or preventing cardiovascular disease among people with diabetes has focused on the relationship with type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder, rather than type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that renders a person dependent on insulin for life. As a result, many people with type 1 diabetes aren’t aware of their increased risk. Today, researchers and the medical community agree that all people with diabetes – type 1 and type 2 – are at a higher risk for developing arteriosclerosis, a thickening and hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other complications. They also concur that all people with diabetes have at least two to four times higher risk of having a heart attack and/or stroke.
The article in Countdown goes on to explore perspectives from researchers around the world that examine how cardiovascular disease begins in people with type 1 diabetes, what factors conspire to worsen a patient’s condition, how tighter control of blood glucose levels can reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications, what proactive strategies may prevent rapid deterioration, how physicians are responding to this information, and where research stands in the quest for cures.
For more information about type 1 diabetes and research efforts for the cure, please visit www.jdrf.org.