Diabetic patients should focus on a healthy lifestyle and take the medication recommended by their physician to control health risks, say experts. This advice follows the disappointing results of a three-part federal study to see if diabetic patients could be prevented from having heart problems if they took additional drugs to lower their blood pressure and blood-fat. The results showed the drugs did not prevent heart problems. On the contrary, they caused harmful side effects in some cases.The studies, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, followed people with Type 2 diabetes the most common form of the disease. More than 5,500 diabetics with a second health risk such as high blood pressure or cholesterol were recruited for the blood-fat study. All patients were given a cholesterol lowering pill while half were also given TRICOR, a drug from Abbott Laboratories that lowers blood fats while boosting good cholesterol. The remaining participants got placebos.After five years, the three groups showed similar rates of heart attacks and strokes. Patients with very high blood fat appeared to benefit from TRICOR with some gender differences: men were helped but women who took TRICOR had a greater chance of suffering a heart problem compared to women taking dummy pills.
In the blood pressure part of the study, about 4,700 diabetics were treated with medicines to keep the systolic, or higher number, blood pressure below 140 or 120. The treatment did not show a decrease in the number of heart attacks and side effects were greater in patients.
Diabetics are at greater risk of dying of heart attacks or stroke than non-diabetic people. Doctors advise patients they should not stop their medication without checking with their doctors. They also remind patients the test should not be taken as a sign to ignore controlling their blood pressure, glucose or fat levels.
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