Cardiovascular disease is a major complication of diabetes and the leading cause of early death among people with diabetes. More than 10 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. and 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease and stroke. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke than people without diabetes.
Despite these statistics, most cardiologists have taken a back seat to other specialists in terms of managing the glucose levels for their patients with type 2 diabetes. However, an October 2011 CardioSurve survey indicates a growing interest among cardiologists in having tools to assist and guide them in managing cardiovascular disease in those diabetic patients.
Most cardiologists have a considerable percentage of their patients who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Nearly half (49%) of cardiologists state that 21% to 40% of their patient populations have type 2 diabetes, and another 3 out of 10 (30%) cardiologists indicate up to 60% of their patient populations have type 2 diabetes.
The single greatest barrier cardiologists see to treating type 2 diabetes is patient adherence (74%) followed by multiple medication management of diabetes (53%) and managing cardiovascular disease risk factors (46%).
The vast majority of cardiologists (84%) indicate that they are making referrals to other health care providers such as endocrinologists or diabetologists for follow up care with these patients. The high referral levels fall in line with the nearly two out of three (65%) cardiologists who say they are not comfortable with treating diabetes in their patients. However, a similar percentage of cardiologists (65%) are conducting some education/counseling about lifestyle modification for these patients.
The tools cardiologists would like to see from the ACC include online/live programs on treating type 2 diabetes in the context of cardiovascular disease (51%); communication tools and resources via journal articles, CardioSource*, or live educational ACC programs (49%), and patient education tools for diverse populations (47%).
In the end, although cardiologists historically have not been primary caregivers in managing diabetes, as they continue to play a larger role in the care of patients suffering from the disease there is an increasing need for tools and education to address multiple risk factors and medication management.