4 policies to improve the identification of patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) released a report on Sept. 29 on diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In 2015, an estimated 415 million adults were living with diabetes. The IDF said the number could increase to 642 million by 2040.

The IDF said studies have estimated that 15 percent to 41 percent of middle-age adults living with diabetes in North America, Western Europe, Australia and Japan have cardiovascular disease. The organization added that only 41 countries have high-quality data on people who have diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

To that end, the IDF asked governments to implement the following four policies:

  1. Use international standards for conducting epidemiological studies
  2. Implement policies and lifestyle interventions to increase healthy eating and physical activity
  3. Prioritise access to essential medicines to control blood pressure and diabetes
  4. Implement non-communicable disease monitoring systems

In 2015, approximately 5.0 million people died from diabetes, most of which occurred due to cardiovascular complications. However, the IDF said it is difficult to estimate the numbers because regions with the highest rates of age-standardized cardiovascular disease mortality are in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Countries in those regions often do not track residents who have diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease.

AstraZeneca provided a grant for the project, although the IDF said the company had no influence on the report’s scope or content.

“The incidence of [cardiovascular disease] in people with diabetes can be decreased through individual-level interventions such as reduction in intake of sugar, salt and fat, improved fruit and vegetable intake, increased physical activity, smoking cessation and avoidance of excessive alcohol,” the authors wrote. “At a population level, the health care system should be strengthened, the education of people with non-communicable diseases should be improved and access to essential medicines should be increased. The progress and efficacy of these interventions can be measured through internationally standardized monitoring systems and high quality epidemiological assessments.”