Heart disease is one of many complications of type 1 diabetes. It is one complication that I know all too well (read my Diabetes Heart Disease story here). It is reported to be the number one killer of people with type 1 diabetes, which is why I must give props to the pump and Swedish research team that uncovered promising news about insulin pump treatment and cardiovascular mortality.
In an article on a study authored by Dr. Isabell Steineck, from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, research conducted over the course of seven years indicated: people with type 1 diabetes who use insulin pumps seem to have a much lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke prematurely than those who rely on multiple daily injections of insulin. Here are a few more highlights:
The researchers found a 45 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease early for insulin pump users. And the risk of dying early from heart disease or stroke was 42 percent lower for insulin pump users, while the risk of all-cause death was 27 percent lower during the seven-year study period.
Because this was only an observational study, the authors can’t say for sure that insulin pumps lowered death risk during the study, although they did find a significant association between these factors.
The findings were published recently in the BMJ [a peer-reviewed medical journal formerly known as the British Medical Journal]. No funding for the study was provided by insulin pump manufacturers, Steineck added.
So how might insulin pumps reduce the risk of premature death? It’s possible they reduce the number of severe episodes of low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), the study authors suggested. Hypoglycemia has been linked to heart disease risk, they said.
It’s also possible that the additional education received when switching from injections to an insulin pump may help patients better manage their blood sugar levels, Steineck noted.
Good news, you say? There’s a downside, which is the cost of type 1 diabetes care. As the article indicates, fewer than half of Americans with type 1 diabetes use an insulin pump, demonstrating the need for greater insurance coverage. Additionally, the positive effect may be attributable to intensified glucose monitoring, which reminds me to remind you of the legislative bills sitting in the halls of Congress for years now that would make sure that people over the age of 65, who are Medicare-eligible, have access to life-saving Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM).
So today, I’ll go red in honor of Heart Month, accent with a touch of blue, the universal color of the diabetes community, and give props to the potential of the pump to lower the risk of dying from heart disease. But make no mistake, I’m still mad because many type ones simply can’t afford insulin pump therapy.