Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH: Addressing Cardiovascular Disease in Diabetes


The American Heart Association chief medical officer for prevention discussed the new ADA partnership and the new emphasis on comorbidity care.

Eduardo J. Sanchez, MD, MPH

Eduardo J. Sanchez, MD, MPH

Prior to the opening of the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) 78th Annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida, the ADA announced a new partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) and multiple pharmaceutical companies that target therapies in relevant fields.

The parternship, according to the ADA, is intended to help raise awareness on the risks of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes — a disease so frequent in the United States that they currently project it as affecting more than 30 million Americans.

This large population is at a significantly greater risk of heart or cardiovascular disease, driving the AHA's desire in aligning with the ADA. AHA Chief Medical Officer for Prevention Eduardo J. Sanchez, MD, MPH, sat down with MD Mag while attending ADA to discuss the relationship between the 2 institutions — and the diseases they're both trying to fight.

MD Mag: Within regards to the AHA’s role in this new partnership, is there anything you could tell us about how it came to be?

Sanchez: The newly announced partnership between the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association is, simply put, a goal to combine forces to extend life — longer, healthier lives, and quite frankly, to save lives.

Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are both highly prevalent conditions among adults in the United States. The science tells us what we need to do, and we’re going to combine forces to do that better. We’ve got 4 areas that we want to focus on:

  1. To increase awareness in the general population, that those with diabetes have a very high risk of cardiovascular disease, and of the bad things that come with cardiovascular disease.
  2. We want patients with diabetes to understand that cardiovascular disease is the most likely thing to cause them life-ending or life-threatening problems.
  3. We want physicians and other clinicians to not only be better aware, but to do better at managing glucose, blood pressure, lipids, and maybe most importantly, making a very strong statement about lifestyle modification — eating healthier, being physically active, and to quit smoking.
  4. Thinking about the systems of care — the clinical setting and practices where people get care, the hospitals — and doing everything we can at a systems level — information systems, processes, procedures, decision support — to make those systems support the work being done by clinicians, that is being done to save the lives of patients.

Can you put an emphasis on the need for collaboration among organizations moving forward, with the current scope of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other comorbidities in the country?

Here’s some rough numbers: 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure. At least 1 out of 3 has a combination of high blood pressure and lipid disorders. Roughly 1 in 10 of the population has diabetes, but 1 out of 3 adults has pre-diabetes.

You put all of that mix together, and there is a real urgency to getting things done. That’s the urgency side — the good news is that we know what to do. We just need to systematically get those things done.

The American Heart Association uses a construct: Life’s Simple 7. (Those are) not smoking, eating healthy, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, blood glucose, blood cholesterol.

Let me break that down a little bit. In the “preventing diabetes and cardiovascular disease” arena, eating healthy, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight is the way to do it. Once you have any of those conditions described on the other side, it’s critically important to manage those with lifestyle and whatever might be the appropriate medical interventions.

Anything else you would want to add about this partnership?

I will also say that we are, at the American Heart Association, very pleased to be partnering with the American Diabetes Association to address cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

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