Early, aggressive treatment of type 1 diabetes lowers risk of cardiovascular disease

Intensive and early treatment of type 1 diabetes substantially lowers the risk of cardiovascular ailments such as heart disease and stroke, a new multicenter study shows.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center and 27 other U.S. medical institutions found that patients who receive early and aggressive treatment for the disease, including the use of insulin pumps or multiple daily (three or more) insulin injections, glucose monitoring and lifestyle intervention as young adults, reduced their risk of serious cardiovascular disease by almost 60 percent.

Their findings are based on a long-term study of patients who took part in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) more than a decade ago. UT Southwestern participated in the follow-up clinical study of DCCT patients called the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) study. EDIC examined long-term effects of aggressive treatment compared with conventional blood glucose control. The latest findings appear in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The initial DCCT results, announced in 1993, showed that intensive glucose control prevents or delays eye, nerve and kidney damage common complications of type 1 diabetes. At the time, however, researchers had not followed participants long enough to investigate whether intensive treatment also lowered the risk of heart attack and stroke.

"We were one of the centers following about 60 patients, and when we started most of our patients were, on average, 30 to 35 years old," said Dr. Philip Raskin, professor of internal medicine and the lead DCCT researcher at UT Southwestern. "We reported short-term health benefits of early, intensive treatment, but at that time the patients weren't old enough to experience some of the cardiovascular disease and events that can afflict older patients with type 1 diabetes. As that population has aged, the strategy of early intervention and aggressive control of the d

Contact: Katherine Morales
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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