Communicating Heart Risk in Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes patients may have better perception of heart risk after participating in educational program

(RxWiki News) Doctors may be well aware that diabetes raises the risk of heart problems, but many diabetes patients may not know about these risks. Effort to educate patients about heart risks may be needed.

Compared to standard diabetes care, a program designed to teach diabetes patients about their risk of heart disease may give patients a more realistic picture of their heart disease risk.

"Take care of your heart if you have diabetes."

According to Laura M.C. Welschen, PhD, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues, people with type 2 diabetes often underestimate their risk of serious complications. What's more, these patients do not always understand their doctors' explanations of these risks.

Dr. Welschen and her fellow researchers wanted to see if a educational program about the risk of heart disease in type 2 diabetes could improve patients' understanding of their heart risk.

After two weeks of the program, patients had a more accurate picture of their risk of heart disease. However, this improvement disappeared after 12 weeks.

Even though the program improved patients' understanding of heart risks, it did not change their actions.

Patients who participated in the program did not become more worried about heart disease, nor did they try to change their behavior to better protect their hearts.

"The risk communication method improved patients' risk perception at 2 weeks but not at 12 weeks," the authors concluded.

"Negative effects were not found, as patients did not become anxious or worried after the [heart disease] risk communication," they said.

This randomized controlled trial included 261 people with type 2 diabetes. Of these, 131 participated in the communication program and 130 received standard care.

The research was published August 24 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association. 

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Review Date: 
August 27, 2012