Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the U.S., beating all forms of cancer combined. The stakes are even higher for the 16 million Americans with diabetes, but a new study shows one medication used to control blood pressure could play a bigger role in preventing heart disease and stroke.
Sylvia Hyatt works hard to keep her diabetes in check.
"I watch what I eat, I try to walk and do what I can. I try to reduce my stress."
But her condition also makes her a prime candidate for heart disease.
"Diabetes is a very important risk factor for heart disease. In fact, it’s a stronger risk factor in women than it is in men," says Dr. Lori Mosca.
Diabetes, age, family history, smoking and race can all put you at risk for heart disease; controlling risk factors, like blood pressure and cholesterol, can help dramatically.
"Blood pressure control is critical to not only preventing a heart attack, but also reducing the risk of stroke."
Traditional antihypertensive medications work well to reduce blood pressure levels, but studies show ace inhibitors have an added bonus.
"Very exciting new research has suggested that ACE inhibitors are very effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes and improving overall survival."
In a landmark trial called “the hope study”, the drug Ramipril cut the risk of heart attack in high risk patients by 22 percent and the risk of stroke by 33 percent. Two-thirds of diabetics die from some form of heart or blood vessel damage. That's why this study is so crucial for patients like Sylvia and her family.
"I want to be in their picture. I want to see them get married. I want to see them go to college. I want to see my grandkids," Sylvia says.
To learn more about the heart-saving treatments, watch our half hour medical breakthrough special on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. right here on WCTV.