With February being American Heart Health Month (on top of all the love in the air), we've had this vital organ on the mind of late -- especially since it's so important to think about for those of us with diabetes.
Personally, I've been getting my heart checked out annually for the past several years, since entering into my 30s. That gives me an extra boost of confidence, after having experienced some high cholesterol numbers several years ago. I've also been taking a statin for the past decade, so despite that whole "diabetes and statins" debate continuing in the medical community, I feel pretty safeguarded when it comes to my heart health.
We at the 'Mine have posted a good amount on diabetes heart health through the years, and for me one standout was the second-ever post in our 411 Series on diabetes complications, introduced back in 2011. Coincidentally, this came during American Heart Month, exactly four years ago today! That post, dubbed "The 411 On Heart Disease and Diabetes," is packed with some great info that remains very valuable.
Earlier this month, we caught the American Diabetes Association's online chat on Twitter using the hashtag #DiabetesHeart. Teaming up with the ADA for this chat was the American College of Cardiology, and both orgs had a resident expert answering questions in real-time: the ACC's Dr. Nathan Wong at the University of California, Irvine, and the ADA's Chief Scientific and Medical Officer Dr. Robert Ratner.
Scrolling through the online transcript, it looks like there were roughly eight main questions covered, ranging from how people with diabetes (PWDs) can best take care of their hearts, to the advances we've seen in over the past 20 years and what's on the horizon. Yes, some of the questions were very basic -- as in, the types/causes/symptoms/treatments of diabetes and just what relationships exist between D and heart disease, and what resources exist for PWDs (like the Diabetes Online Community).
Some surprising stats we heard were that many patients might be controlled for one factor relating to heart health, but only 1/4 of U.S. diabetes patients are controlled for all including cholesterol, blood pressure and A1C. Still, the good news is that stroke and heart attacks are down more than 60% for PWDs in the past 20 years, and things continue getting better, Ratner says!
An interesting back-and-forth came from our friend and fellow D-advocate Kelly Close, founder of Close Concerns and diaTribe. Kelly asked about the risk-benefit ratio of cardiovascular studies for new diabetes meds, which can cost billions, especially in this day and age after the embattled oral drug Avandia has basically been "exonerated" of all the past concerns about cardiovascular risk. The answer is not clear-cut, so a lively discussion ensued.
We also enjoyed hearing a little more about the new Diabetes Collaborative Registry being developed by the ADA and partner orgs (mentioned earlier this month in our Sanofi Diabetes Summit coverage) and how this registry will include all forms of diabetes and work to connect patient clinical data across multiple health care specialty areas.
And there was a shout-out to the particular needs of women with diabetes, including a nod to good resource material, including this one-page fact sheet.
But overall, we thought one of the best pieces of info that emerged from this chat was this very cool infographic, created by the American College of Cardiology focusing on the relationship of diabetes & heart health:
So... here's to hoping you show some love for your own heart this February!
And in the words (and cartooning talent) of our good friend Mike Durbin over at My Diabetic Heart, we too ask: How will you love your heart this month?