Campaign Targets Link Between Heart Disease and Diabetes

The For Your Sweetheart campaign aims to improve education about the link between heart disease and diabetes.

A recent survey shows that a majority of people are unaware that heart disease is the top killer of individuals with type 2 diabetes.

This survey included more than 1500 adults, including 501 individuals with type 2 diabetes. The results showed that 3 out of 4 Americans, and 2 out of 3 individuals with diabetes, did not know that heart disease was the top cause of mortality for this population.

Approximately 52% of respondents with type 2 diabetes were also unaware they face an increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and death, according to a press release from Eli Lilly and Company.

Due to the overwhelming results that suggest a significant knowledge gap, Lilly along with Boehringer Ingelheim, have launched the For Your SweetHeart campaign to raise awareness of the risk for cardiovascular disease and among patients with diabetes.

The main goal of the campaign is to increase knowledge about the link between diabetes and heart disease, encourage patients with diabetes to understand their increased risks, and discuss their health with their primary care provider, according to the press release.

Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 cause of death for patients with type 2 diabetes, but an increased understanding of their risks can allow patients to discuss their treatment options at length with their healthcare providers.

"The truth is cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among people with diabetes, but there is hope. The earlier people with diabetes understand this risk, the sooner they become engaged and take action to help reduce their chances of heart attacks, strokes or even death," said Paul Fonteyne, president and CEO, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "We're excited to launch For Your SweetHeart to encourage people with type 2 diabetes to assess their risk through the Heart You Quiz and to speak with their healthcare provider about the link between diabetes and heart disease. The most important thing people can do is know everything they can about their health and encourage their loved ones to do the same."

Both companies have partnered with Travis Stork, MD, the physician host of the show The Doctors, to provide more education for patients with diabetes and their loved ones about the potential cardiovascular risks.

"In the emergency room, I regularly see people with type 2 diabetes experiencing life-threatening events like heart attacks or strokes. Few know they are more likely to experience these kinds of complications simply because they have diabetes. I've joined the For Your SweetHeart campaign because awareness of heart disease risk is critical for people with type 2 diabetes and their loved ones, and taking action today may help save lives,” Dr Stork said in a press release. "My grandfather had type 2 diabetes, and from him, I learned a lot about the importance of managing the disease before I ever became a doctor. I urge everyone with type 2 diabetes to visit ForYourSweetHeart.com, take and share the Heart You Quiz to learn about their risk for heart disease, then talk to their healthcare provider."

Individuals with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease, due to factors such as high blood pressure, blood lipid content, and obesity. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels, and can lead to injury from high blood pressure and plaque build-up, according to the press release.

In the survey that sparked the campaign, 99% of individuals with type 2 diabetes reported they would do something about their risks for heart disease if they were aware of this occurrence. More than 80% responded that they would improve their diet, exercise, and discuss treatment options with their healthcare provider.

Only 35% of individuals with type 2 diabetes were aware they had an increased risk for heart attack, and 41% of all respondents were aware of this fact, Lilly reported. Patients with diabetes and their loved ones will likely now have an opportunity to take proactive steps towards preventing heart disease and related deaths because of the creation of this campaign, according to the press release.

"People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without diabetes," said Mike Mason, vice president, US, Lilly Diabetes. "Educating the public about this important health crisis is just another component of our responsibility and commitment to delivering the best care for people with type 2 diabetes. We hope this initiative will encourage people to take action, not only for themselves, but also for their sweethearts."