Diabetes and Heart Failure: A Study

A recent study from Northwestern University looked at the greatest risks factors for heart failure, and discovered that living with diabetes poses the greatest risk.

Researchers reviewed data from over 1,600 patients who had suffered from heart failure after age 45, along with nearly 3,000 patients who suffered heart failure after 55. They followed these patients until either age 95 or their passing, looking for instances of three particular risk factors: obesity, hypertension, and diabetes of either type.

The Findings

Unsurprisingly, the study found that people with no instances of any of these risk factors lived significantly longer than those who did. Similarly, patients who exhibited all three conditions had a much greater risk than those with only one or two. What is interesting, however, is their results regarding diabetes; people without diabetes lived between 8.6 and 10.6 years longer than those patients who did.

These findings linked diabetes to a greater risk for heart failure and early death – regardless of weight, and even more so than high blood pressure or obesity. It supports the growing evidence that, as cardiologist Chippy Nalluri, M.D., of Heart Specialists of Sarasota says, "almost 70-percent of patients with diabetes age 65 or older, die of some form of heart disease."

Preventing Heart Failure

So what can someone with diabetes do to avoid heart failure? Firstly, focus on reducing the other two risk factors (hypertension and obesity) as much as possible. Remember: two or three risk factors is far more dangerous than one.

“Keeping your weight under control pays off later in life, and monitoring your blood pressure and blood sugar with your physician is crucial,” said Dr. Mary Norine Walsh, medical director of heart failure and cardiac transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center in Indianapolis. “Avoiding all three of these conditions [if possible] can add years to your life.”

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