Patients with both type 2 diabetes and heart disease may be facing grimmer prospects than the general population, new research suggests.

Led by a doctor from University of Connecticut, researchers have found that people with type 2 diabetes who were admitted to the hospital due to congestive heart failure have higher chances of dying in the next 18 months.

The findings of the new study, which was published in the journal Diabetes Care, present a grimmer picture for diabetes patients with severe heart disease that what was previously known.

Primary Findings Of The New Study

Known as the EXAMINE trial, the new study involved more than 5,300 people with type 2 diabetes from different parts of the world.

In the trial, Professor William White of UConn and his colleagues at 898 medical institutions had tested the diabetes drug alogliptin, a member of a class of drugs called DPP-4 inhibitors.

All of the patients in the study had a major but non-fatal acute coronary syndrome, such as a heart attack, or were hospitalized due to unstable angina.

Investigators randomly assigned patients to receive either a placebo or alogliptin and then followed their condition for three years.

In the end, White and his colleagues found that diabetes patients treated at the hospital due to congestive heart failure had a 24 to 28 percent chance of dying in the next 18 months.

The risk is five times higher than for those who were not hospitalized for a major heart problem, researchers said.

Furthermore, the risk of developing heart disease is two to three times higher for patients with diabetes than the general population.

"It's a very dramatic result," says White.

A Deadly Combo

Researchers say the reason heart disease and type 2 diabetes are a deadly combination is partly because problems such as obesity, high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol contribute to both medical conditions.

There are also concerns that some drugs designed to control blood sugar in diabetes patients may potentially damage the heart, study authors wrote.

Although the findings of the study do not mean that congestive heart failure is inevitable for patients with type 2 diabetes, the link between the condition and heart disease should receive a great deal more of focus and attention.

White also emphasized the fact that type 2 diabetes with acute coronary syndrome must be given more care to prevent another major cardiac event.

In all future investigations of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, outcomes associated with heart failure should get the same amount of study as heart attack, stroke and unstable angina, researchers added.

The findings of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association on June 11.

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