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Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
July 2003

People with diabetes are two to six times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without diabetes. Cardiovascular Disease is the major complication and leading cause of death in people with type 2 diabetes. The most important forms of Cardiovascular Disease are coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease. These lead to heart attacks, angina, heart failure, stroke, and gangrene or ulceration of the feet and legs requiring amputation. People with diabetes are also prone to developing Cardiovascular Disease at a younger age and having more severe effects than people without diabetes. Added to this, risk is increased even at the earlier stages of glucose intolerance.

Given current evidence about prevention of diabetes and management of associated Cardiovascular Disease risk factors, IDF’s position is that: People with diabetes face a two to six - fold increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the major complication of diabetes and is responsible for 50 to 80% of deaths in people with type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes are also increasingly exposed to the risk of Cardiovascular Disease as their life expectancy continues to improve with advances in insulin therapy and better glycaemic control.

The impact of CVD in diabetes is exacerbated even further by the following factors: IDF recognizes the magnitude of this problem and strongly encourages all possible collaborative measures aimed at controlling the problem. This includes measures based on lifestyle, which have proven to be effective in preventing diabetes and IGT. Inactive lifestyles, tobacco use and poor diets all contribute to the development of diabetes and CVD. Changes in lifestyle such as losing weight when appropriate, avoiding smoking, eating a healthy, balanced diet and making regular physical activity can only be of double benefit in preventing diabetes and also independently reducing CVD risk.

IDF firmly believes that all people with diabetes deserve levels of care which achieve the following aims: IDF encourages those with responsibility for the provision of healthcare services to guarantee that all steps are taken to ensure that these measures are met. Governments can make a significant contribution by encouraging lifestyle changes, providing health education and investing in prevention programmes. These programmes can be integrated or linked with other health or environmental programmes and have obvious long-term benefits.

1.International Diabetes Federation 2001

Source: International Diabetes Federation