Diabetes Watch

DECEMBER 01, 2008

Watch Aspirin Intake

Whereas many patients with diabetes take aspirin to reduce the risk of a heart attack, a new study suggests it may not be the best approach. Researchers have demonstrated that aspirin does not lower the risk of a heart attack for even high-risk diabetics, unless they previously experienced heart disease. The drug, however, is known to raise the odds of bleeding in the gut.

Researchers in the United Kingdom gave 1276 patients with diabetes aspirin, an antioxidant, or placebo, and followed their health for 8 years. The investigators determined that neither the aspirin nor the antioxidant cut the risk of a heart attack, even in the high-risk groups.

Lead researcher Jill Belch, MD, said that aspirin should only be prescribed to patients who have already been diagnosed with heart disease or had a stroke. The findings were published on the British Medical Journal's Web site on October 16, 2008.

Oh, My Eyes!

New research reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology (October 2008) found that vision loss is almost twice as common in patients with diabetes, compared with patients without the disease.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learned that 11% of adults with diabetes had some level of visual impairment, compared with 5.9% of those without diabetes. Of the participants in the study with diabetes (n = 1237), about 4% had uncorrectable visual impairment, whereas about 7% had correctable vision loss. In comparison, 1.4% of adults without diabetes had irreparable vision loss, while 4.5% had correctable impairment.

The experts recommend that patients with diabetes have an eye exam at least once a year to detect diabetic retinopathy and other eye disorders early. Good control of blood sugar and blood pressure also may help prevent eye complications.

Diabetes Impacts Testosterone Levels

A study reported in Diabetes Care (October 2008) found that about one third of men with type 2 diabetes have decreased testosterone levels. For the study, the researchers measured circulating levels of testosterone in 24 men with type 2 diabetes and 38 men with type 1 diabetes. All of the participants were between 18 and 35 years old.

The researchers reported that testosterone levels were considerably lower in type 2 diabetes patients, compared with those with type 1 diabetes. Specifically, 33% of the patients with type 2 diabetes had testosterone levels that were below normal, and 58% had testosterone levels below normal for their age.

F A S T   F A C T: About 1 in every 400 to 600 children and adolescents has type 1 diabetes.

Vaccine Shows Promise for Type 1 Diabetics

A new vaccine may change the way the immune system responds in individuals who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The results of the study, however, did not change the clinical course of the disease. The vaccine is made of a protein called GAD. In patients with diabetes, it is as if they are allergic to GAD. The study involved 70 children between the ages of 10 and 18 who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes no more than 18 months before study onset.

At the end of the study, the researchers said insulin requirements did not change. In children who were more recently diagnosed, however, there was evidence that the treatment group retained more activity in the pancreas. The researchers hope that the vaccine will help the body learn to tolerate GAD again. The findings were reported in the October 30, 2008, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Diabetes Does Not Raise Risk of Parkinson's Disease

Data from the Physicians' Health Study found no correlation between diabetes and an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, according to study findings reported in the October 2008 issue of Diabetes Care. The study involved 21,841 US male physicians, who were followed for an average of 23 years.

For the study, 423 patients had adultonset type 2 diabetes at study onset and 1987 men reported developing diabetes during the study. A total of 556 participants reported having Parkinson's disease during follow-up. The average age of diagnosis was 73.1 years. The researchers found that patients with diabetes had a 34% increased risk of Parkinson's disease, compared with men without diabetes, but they note that "the findings do not suggest diabetes is a preceding risk factor for Parkinson's disease."

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