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Health Organizations, Industry Collaborate to Combat Diabetes and CVD

The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently announced the start of a new multiyear collaborative initiative supported by founding sponsors Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly), and Novo Nordisk. The initiative's goal is to help people with type 2 diabetes reduce their risk of disability and death due to cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. National sponsor, Sanofi, provides additional support for the initiative.

CVD is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability for this population. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have CVD, which includes heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke, than people without diabetes. The combined risks have a significant impact—shortening life expectancy by an average of 12 years for adults at age 60 with both conditions.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% to 95% of all diabetes cases. It's estimated that more than 30 million American adults have diabetes, including about 7.2 million who are undiagnosed.

In people with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular risk remains high even when blood sugar levels are controlled, leaving many unaware of the danger.

The new initiative will enhance consumer awareness, patient education, health care provider training, and quality improvement measures for clinics, practices, and hospitals treating people with type 2 diabetes.

Together, the AHA and ADA bring strong credentials to this effort, with more than 30 million volunteers, members, and health care professionals with a combined 170 years of expertise. The AHA is the world's leading voluntary organization working to build lives free of CVD and stroke. The ADA is the nation's leading voluntary health organization working to prevent, cure, and improve the lives of those affected by diabetes.

"Diabetes is a significant threat to the cardiovascular health of many Americans," says Nancy Brown, CEO of the AHA. "As we work toward our goal to improve Americans' health, this collaboration aims to unite the health care community with a comprehensive approach to caring for, educating, treating, and empowering patients with diabetes to improve their cardiovascular health and their quality of life."

"Diabetes is the most expensive chronic health condition in the United States, totaling $327 billion in overall annual costs in 2017; moreover, one in every seven health care dollars is spent directly treating diabetes and its complications," says Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the ADA. "Reducing cardiovascular disease risk among people with type 2 diabetes can improve quality and length of life, and it can help to reduce our national health care expenses. This collaboration codifies a critical collective mission—to improve and enhance the lives of the more than 30 million Americans with diabetes."

The longer people live with type 2 diabetes, the higher their risk of developing CVD and, potentially, additional health concerns and risk factors. These are challenges the AHA, ADA, and industry collaborators are ready to combat together.

"This new collaboration has the potential to improve the lives of millions living with diabetes who are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce the impact of these conditions on our health care system," says Thomas Seck, MD, vice president of clinical development and medical affairs, primary care, at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "Boehringer Ingelheim and our Alliance partner Lilly are proud to launch this important initiative, which is a testament to the critical shifts needed in diabetes care to properly address the life-threatening consequences of diabetes and heart disease."

"As a founding partner of this initiative, we're excited about joining together with the ADA and AHA to launch this initiative to help people with diabetes learn more about the critical link between diabetes and the risk of cardiovascular disease," says Todd Hobbs, MD, vice president and chief medical officer of Novo Nordisk. "Addressing cardiovascular risk is an important part of overall diabetes management, and we're hopeful that the collective power of the AHA, ADA, and industry will change the trajectory of type 2 diabetes and bring about meaningful change for the people living with diabetes and those who love, support, and care for them."

More information about the initiative will be released in coming months. Learn more by visiting heart.org/aboutdiabetes.

— Source: American Heart Association; American Diabetes Association

Managing Diabetes and Reducing the Risk of CVD1,2

Dietitians can share the following tips with clients and patients to help them manage diabetes and CVD risk:

  • Make healthful food choices, including fiber-rich whole grains, lean meats, and deeply colored fruits and vegetables.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.*
  • Monitor blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Deal with stress in a healthful manner, such as meditation.\

Learn much more at www.heart.org/aboutdiabetes.

* Have clients consult their primary care physicians before they start a new exercise routine.

1. Living healthy with diabetes. American Heart Association website. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/prevention--treatment-of-diabetes/living-healthy-with-diabetes. Updated August 31, 2015.

2. 3 tips to manage stress. American Heart Association website. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/3-tips-to-manage-stress. Updated June 7, 2017.