People who control their type 2 diabetes are still at a 21% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) when compared to those who do not have the condition.

Research teams from Manchester and Edinburgh say their findings suggest that people with type 2 diabetes should be treated for cardiovascular risk factors to reduce their chances of developing heart disease or stroke.

Professor Sarah Wild, co-senior author from the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our team sought to determine how the degree of risk factor control in people in the UK with type 2 diabetes affects CVD risk and mortality compared to people with type 2 diabetes who had all risk factors optimally controlled and to people who do not have type 2 diabetes.”

Their trial involved using health data from more than 100,000 people with type 2 diabetes, who were cross referenced alongside nearly 379,000 people without the condition. A further 331,000 people from Scotland with type 2 diabetes were also included.

They looked at the number of people in all the groups who smoked, had high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels and how future cardiovascular events impacted them further down the line.

The researchers discovered only 6% of people with type 2 diabetes had all the risk factors within target range.

However, for those people whose risk factors were well controlled there was still a 21% higher risk of developing a cardiovascular problem and a 31% increased risk of being admitted to hospital for heart failure.

Co-senior author Professor Martin Rutter, from the University of Manchester, said: “People with type 2 diabetes should attempt to lead healthy lifestyles and be treated for cardiovascular risk factors as early as possible, regardless of whether they have cardiovascular disease or not.”

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “This research, funded by Diabetes UK, shows that although having type 2 diabetes adds to the risk of developing heart disease, by keeping blood sugars, blood pressure and blood fats in a healthy range, and having a healthy lifestyle – you can minimise that risk.”

The findings have been published in the Circulation journal.

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