Diabetes for Cardiologists: Practical Issues in Diagnosis and Management
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Diabetes mellitus (DM), a chronic metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia, is a profound cardiovascular (CV) risk factor. It compounds the effects of all other risk factors, leads to premature micro- and macrovascular disease, facilitates development of heart failure, worsens the clinical course of all CV diseases, and shortens life expectancy. Established DM, unrecognized DM, and dysglycemia that may progress to DM are all commonly present at the time of presentation of overt CV disease. Thus, CV specialists and trainees frequently treat patients with dysglycemia. The traditional and proven role of cardiologists in reducing the risk of macrovascular events in this population is through aggressive lipid and blood pressure treatment. However, a more proactive role in the detection and management of DM is likely to become increasingly important as the prevalence continues to increase and therapies continue to improve. The latter include antihyperglycemic therapies with proven cardiovascular safety profiles and CV event reduction properties not yet fully elucidated and not necessarily related to glycemic control. Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to (1) expand the interest of cardiologists in earlier stages of the natural history of DM, when prevention or early detection might help achieve greatest benefit; (2) highlight principles of optimal glycemic management, with an emphasis on add-on choices showing promising reduction of CV events and lacking CV adverse effects; and (3) encourage cardiologists to become proactive partners in the multidisciplinary care needed to ensure optimal lifelong vascular health in patients with, or who are at risk of, DM.
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