ACE inhibitors for diabetics cut in half the risk of death

ACE inhibitors, a type of medication often used to treat high blood pressure or heart disease, can lower mortality rates for people who have diabetes -- whether they have cardiovascular disease or not, according to a study published in the June issue of Diabetes Care.

The study, by researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada, found that the use of ACE inhibitors among a broad spectrum of people newly treated for diabetes cut in half the risk of death from all causes and reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 23 percent.

The subjects in this study were 18 years or older (average age of 60 years) at the time the research began. None showed any signs of cardiovascular disease at the onset of the study, which lasted for five years.

The researchers concluded that many people with recent-onset type 2 diabetes could benefit from treatment with ACE inhibitors, regardless of whether they have cardiovascular disease or not. ACE inhibitors work by blocking an enzyme that makes blood vessels tighten, thereby helping blood vessels to relax, instead.

The result is that more blood and oxygen are sent to the heart. In addition, the enzyme that ACE inhibitors block is believed to play an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease. By blocking this enzyme, ACE inhibitors are thought to slow the development of cardiovascular disease, irrespective of their effects on blood pressure.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for people who have diabetes, who are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as people who don't have diabetes. "By delaying the development of cardiovascular disease, people with type 2 diabetes may live longer," said lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey A. Johnson, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Diabetes Health Outcomes, of the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta, in Canada. Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association, is the leading peer-reviewed journal of clinical research into the nation's fifth leading cause of death by disease.

Diabetes also is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, as well as the leading cause of adult blindness, kidney failure and non-traumatic amputations. For more information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association Web site http://www.diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).

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