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June 19, 2003


Emory Physician Leads Research Study Examining Cardiovascular Disease and Hospitalizations Among Georgians With Diabetes

ATLANTA -- Endocrinologist Curtiss B. Cook, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Emory University School of Medicine, is leading a study examining statewide cardiovascular disease-related hospitalizations among persons with diabetes. The $260,000 study will also include an analysis of Grady Memorial Hospital diabetes patients.

The study, shared with the Georgia Hospital Association and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine, is designed to examine the occurrence of cardiovascular disease discharges among diabetes patients throughout the state of Georgia. The second aim is to look at the relationship between diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Grady’s diabetes patients.

"We’re doing this study because we want to increase our knowledge on diabetes and hospitalizations in Georgia," said Dr. Cook, who serves as principal investigator of the study. "We do know that hospitalizations nationally drive the majority of the costs for diabetes care."

Approximately 16 million Americans have diabetes. Most have type 2 or adult-onset form of the disease, which is often linked to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles and is appearing in even younger patients. According to the National Institutes of Health, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death among people with diabetes, and at least 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke than people without diabetes. The NIH states that "relatively small improvements in blood glucose (sugar), lipids, and blood pressure values result in decreased risk for diabetes complications."

Dr. Cook said the primary aim of the study is to determine the actual relationship between diabetes and heart disease and how both diseases affect patients across the state of Georgia.

Another aspect of the grant will determine if there are metabolic variables, such as glucose levels, lipids and blood pressure, in Grady patients that affect their risk for being hospitalized for cardiovascular disease.

"What we hope to find is that with better glucose control, there is better lipid and blood pressure control, plus it is less likely for patients to be hospitalized with life-threatening conditions such as heart disease," Dr. Cook said. "If we can show that, it will make a good argument to be very aggressive to lower blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure in all of our patients."

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