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Diabetes and Congestive Heart Failure

Warning: Read this before you or a loved one uses Actos (diabetes medication).
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High blood sugar, cholesterol and elevated blood pressure often come with diabetes. As
these factors clog arteries, veins and capillaries, blood is no longer able to pump through the
heart in the right quantities, and congestive heart failure can develop. People with diabetes
are twice as likely to get heart disease or have a stroke than others.

Everyone should worry about how cholesterol and high blood pressure are affecting their
heart. When a person has diabetes, they need to add high blood sugar and dangerous
medication to the list of risk factors they consider.

Scrutinizing Medication

Millions of people with diabetes in the United States need to use medication to lower their
blood sugar to safe levels. Most medication comes with a trade-off. It may lower blood
sugar, but it could also have serious side effects. When a person has diabetes, they need to
carefully scrutinize medication.

Doctors originally thought the type 2 diabetes drug Actos was safe. Then in 2007, the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered it increased congestive heart failure risk by 30
percent. The FDA has since assigned Actos its strongest black-box warning. Obviously, this
is a situation where the benefits of a medication don’t always outweigh the costs.

New studies are constantly revealing new side effects. The latest study on Actos was
published in May 2012. It showed Actos makes type 2 diabetics 83 percent more likely to
get bladder cancer, in addition to congestive heart failure. Other side effects of Actos are
likely with prolonged use of the medication.

Keeping Track of the ABCs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services addresses congestive heart failure with
a useful memory aid, the ABCs.

‘A’ stands for the A1c in HbA1c. This is the lab test doctors use to determine glycated
hemoglobin level (the amount of glucose in a person’s blood). Keeping A1c below 7 percent
helps manage diabetes and prevent congestive heart failure.

The ‘B’ is for blood pressure, which should be checked at every doctor visit to make sure
blood vessels aren’t getting clogged. Blood pressure near 120/80 mm Hg is a healthy target.

Finally, the ‘C’ is for cholesterol, which comes in three measurements. Patients should
strive to have less than 100 mg/dL of LDL cholesterol. That’s the bad cholesterol. Their
triglycerides should be under 150 mg/dL. Their HDL cholesterol should be more than 40
mg/dL for men and more than 50 mg/dL for women. HDL is the good cholesterol.

By scrutinizing medication and keeping track of the ABCs, people with diabetes are on the
way to excellent disease management.

William Richards researches and writes about prescription drugs and medical devices for
Drugwatch.com.

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