Alarming co-occurrence of type 2 diabetes and CVD demands more awareness to address risks, improve health

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) today hosted an important health observance briefing to raise awareness of the co-occurrence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), "National Diabetes Heart Connection Day." Diabetes affects 29.1 million people in the U.S., including 8.1 million people who are undiagnosed. Another 86 million more -- one in three adults -- have prediabetes and 15-30 percent will develop diabetes within five years without change. Because people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing heart disease this can contribute to a notably reduced life expectancy. Compounding that, cardiovascular disease is the underlying cause of 1 in 3 deaths in the U.S. Clearly, making the diabetes heart connection is a must.

This effort to motivate change in health care that could prevent and better manage these costly chronic diseases and save lives has been bolstered by an official resolution now passed in the U.S. Senate and introduced in the House of Representatives with great thanks to Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representatives Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Rick Allen (R-GA).

Less than half of those with diabetes are aware that type 2 diabetes puts them at a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease complications. Lack of awareness prevents people with diabetes, their families, and their health care providers from addressing risks and improving health. Preventable deaths are tragic evidence of missed opportunities to improve the overall health, and an official awareness campaign is an important public statement of the problem and commitment to addressing it.

Today's inaugural observance of national diabetes heart health awareness was highlighted by perspectives from every angle of this discussion - Anne Dalin, a person with diabetes who suffered a recent heart attack, Dr. Omar Lattouf, a cardiothoracic surgeon, John Clymer, Executive Director of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention, Ann Forburger, National Association of Chronic Diseases Directors, and Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease Chairman, Ken Thorpe, a health economist.

"In the fight against chronic disease which takes far too many lives and consumes an unnecessary excess of health care dollars, we seemed to have lost sight of the power of prevention. We must do better to diagnose, treat and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and one of the first and most important actions we can take is to raise awareness among patients, providers and policymakers of the alarming co-existence of these two debilitating conditions, and what can be done to avoid them in the first place," urged PFCD Chairman Ken Thorpe.

There are more than 30 organizations who pledged support for this important effort.

"Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to supporting efforts to raise awareness, understanding and action towards reducing the impact of heart related complications for people with type 2 diabetes," said Thomas Seck, M.D., vice president, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Primary Care, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "Education on the link between diabetes and heart disease is crucial, because the sooner people know their risk, the sooner they can do something about it."

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