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People With Diabetes Fear Disability More Than Death

Singing Artist Gladys Knight Urges Americans with Diabetes to "Know More, Do More" to Reduce Their Risk of Deadly Heart Attacks and Strokes.

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Watch video which looks at the results of a national survey of older Americans living with diabetes. (Real Video)   : (Windows Media Player)

People with diabetes are four times as afraid of the disability associated with losing their sight and twice as afraid of losing a limb than of suffering a heart attack or stroke, according to a national survey of older Americans living with the disease. While heart attack and stroke are by far the leading cause of death and devastating disability among people with diabetes -- with stroke the primary cause of disability in the nation -- one-third of those surveyed were not even aware that they are at increased risk for these events.

A new survey, known as the State-of-the-Heart-in-Diabetes survey, found that most people surveyed are under the misconception that blindness and amputation are more prevalent disabling consequences of diabetes than heart attack and stroke.

"My mother died from complications of diabetes. She, like so many people surveyed was determined to live life to the fullest and not become a burden to her family as a result of the disease," said renowned singing artist and diabetes advocate, Gladys Knight. "Because of her experience, I'm determined to help people with diabetes know more and do more to prevent the devastating disability of cardiovascular complications of diabetes."

Ms. Knight has joined a new patient education program to urge Americans living with diabetes to Know More, Do More to reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

"This survey is a wake up call for the public and physicians. They need to understand the profound link between diabetes and heart attack and stroke, and recognize that these consequences of diabetes are far more likely to lead to disability and death than other diabetic complications," said Alan Garber, MD, PhD, a national authority in cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. "More than that, we need to give people with diabetes the tools to help prevent these cardiovascular events to ensure that they can continue to enjoy vibrant and productive lives without the burden of disability."

Why Do More?

The State-of-the-Heart-in-Diabetes survey, authored by Dr. Garber, revealed that almost two-thirds (63 percent) of older Americans with diabetes believed they could be doing more to further reduce their risk for a stroke or heart attack, although 34 percent felt there was nothing more they could do. Those motivated to do more desire to lead a full and vital life (63 percent) and want to minimize the potential burden to their families of caring for someone with a disability (65 percent).

"I've always been more frightened by the risk of blindness associated with diabetes because I was afraid that losing my sight would mean losing my livelihood and my ability to participate fully in daily activities," said Leonard H. Campbell, who has had diabetes for the past ten years. "It's startling to realize that my quality of life can be equally shattered if I suffer a heart attack or stroke. Knowing now how high my risk is of having one of these events is prompting me to take greater steps to protect myself."

Of the 16 million Americans living with diabetes today, three-fourths will develop cardiovascular disease. People who survive a cardiovascular event (i.e. heart attack or stroke) may experience impaired movement, weakness and shortness of breath, trouble with speech, memory loss, and emotions problems. Every year, nearly 77,000 people with diabetes die from heart disease. Conversely, up to 24,000 people with diabetes will suffer complete vision loss and 56,200 the loss of a foot or leg each year.

"In addition to strict management of blood sugar levels, there are major new advances in the prevention of heart attack and stroke that should be made well-known and available to people with diabetes," Dr. Garber says. "For example, a recent study demonstrated that a drug called ramipril was found to substantially reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes, even if they were already taking other medications."

The benefits of ramipril (marketed in the U.S. as Altace(R) were demonstrated in the Micro-HOPE trial -- a sub-study of the landmark HOPE (Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation) Study -- where treatment with this agent reduced the risk of stroke by 33 percent, heart attack by 22 percent and death due to these causes by 37 percent in people aged 55 or older who have diabetes plus at least one other cardiovascular risk factor.

The State-of-the-Heart-in-Diabetes survey showed that for people with diabetes the major benefit of taking such a therapy would be the knowledge that they were doing everything they could to live life to the fullest (81 percent) while reducing risk of hospitalization (80 percent) and the chance of family members having to care for them (72 percent).

The State-of-the-Heart-in-Diabetes National Education Program

"This survey demonstrated the need to help people living with diabetes know more about their cardiovascular risk," says Ms. Knight. "I'm pleased to be part of this important campaign, and to join with Dr. Garber and community hospitals around the country to provide the information that will help people to do more."

"I'm currently working on a lifestyle book for people with diabetes. In addition to diet and exercise, it's important for people with diabetes to know how they can further reduce their risk with medication, like Altace," Ms. Knight added.

The survey indicated that most people rely on their doctors and the news media for health information. With that in mind, using the survey as a guide, The State-of-the-Heart-in-Diabetes Educational program will provide educational information to people with diabetes through physician-directed seminars at medical centers around the country as well as through the news media.

The survey and the consumer education program were developed through an unrestricted educational grant from Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories and Monarch Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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Produced for Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories

 

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People With Diabetes Fear Disability More Than Death
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