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Diabetes, Medications and Heart Disease

The Annals of Cardiology No.31 | Diabetes, Medications and Heart Disease

You can read the introduction below or read the full version here.

Sometimes, when I’m bored at Sunday breakfast, I pretend I’m Steve Harvey and subject my relatives to a round of medical Family Feud. Here’s a sample question: “According to 100 people surveyed, what image comes to mind when you think of diabetes complications?” Forced to play along, my family offers these responses: “Amputations! Blindness!” Neither answer surprises me, not because I’m a doctor, but because they’re the first images that come to my mind, too. What does surprise me, however, is how seldom I hear the answer “Heart disease.”

Every day I see at least one patient in the office whose heart disease is a direct complication of diabetes. That’s because many heart problems are caused by atherosclerosis – blockages in the arteries that supply the heart. And, put simply: sugar is toxic to blood vessels. Please don’t counter with “Oh, but the body needs sugar.” I know. It also needs cholesterol, fat, and salt. But, as our grannies kept reminding us, “Too much of a good thing …”

So, do you have diabetes? How old are you? Because here are a few grim statistics that might make you forget about cholesterol, fat, and salt for a minute: Having a history of diabetes at age 60 can shorten your life by 6 years. Having both diabetes and a heart attack by age 60 can shorten your life by 12 years. When you fantasize about retirement plans and hear these awful numbers, it makes you want to learn some things about sugar.

Continued in the full newsletter…

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