Columbia University Medical Center

American College Of Cardiology Honors Dr. J. Thomas Bigger Jr. At Annual Scientific Session

New York, NY – March 2003 – The links between diabetes and heart disease are both well-established and daunting: Heart and vascular disease remain the major causes of death for people with diabetes. Diabetes patients are two to four times as likely as others to experience heart attacks, strokes, blood vessel problems, or other types of cardiovascular events; they are at the exact same risk for heart attacks, with no previous heart troubles, as people who have already experienced one such incident. The problem does not discriminate by gender; in fact, diabetic women have about four times the risk of heart attack as females without the disease. (Source: WebMD/Cleveland Clinic).

This month, under the auspices of the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Columbia University Health Sciences—along with approximately 70 institutions from seven regional networks nationwide—is embarking upon a large-scale, long-term research study to determine optimal treatment strategies for the reduction of cardiovascular risk in Type 2 diabetes. Columbia Health Sciences will serve as the hub for a regional network of 12 affiliated centers in the Northeast, all located in New York or New Jersey.

The study, known as ACCORD, will recruit and follow 10,000 patients over eight years and evaluate treatment for a number of heart and vascular problems related to Type 2 diabetes (including heart attack, stroke, and other vascular diseases)—to establish treatment plans to prevent, delay, or reduce the risk for future cardiovascular events.

Patients in the ACCORD trial at Columbia and all other Northeastern sites will receive, at no cost, study-related support services to help them manage their diabetes and to try to minimize their risk of developing cardiovascular problems—including medical supplies and medications for controlling blood sugar and either blood pressure or blood cholesterol; education about managing diabetes and related heart health risks; and advice on healthy lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise plans. In turn, ACCORD-affiliated physicians will determine, through research records and patient follow-up, which of these approaches—or combinations of approaches—seems to have the greatest benefit in helping doctors and patients reduce cardiovascular incidents associated with diabetes.

To qualify for the study, participants must have had stable Type 2 diabetes for more than three months and have risk factors for cardiovascular disease (including prior heart problems, a family history of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, abnormally high blood cholesterol levels, or an established cigarette smoking habit). Patients who have never been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease must be age 55 or older, while those who have had a history of heart problems can be as young as age 40. Participants must be willing to undergo blood sugar testing and monitoring, as well as injections of insulin, if necessary.

For more information or to schedule a screening appointment, contact ACCORD at 212-305-6357.

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