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IDF and CVD: Getting to the heart of the matter

The rising tide of diabetes around the globe is generating a greater increase in those at risk or living with untreated cardiovascular disease (CVD)


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Taking Diabetes to Heart study promotional visual

The rising tide of diabetes around the globe is generating a greater increase in those at risk or living with untreated cardiovascular disease (CVD). Living with diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) is considered a double-jeopardy for the health of an individual and is predicted to result in increased complications worldwide, including cardiovascular complications, unless preventive action is taken.1 People living with type 2 diabetes are especially at increased risk of CVDs and associated clinical complications.2,3 Given diabetes and CVD are currently among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, particularly among populations in low- and middle-income populations, there is a great urgency to change the upward trajectory.4,5

IDF is putting concentrated efforts toward the fight against cardiovascular diseases. In October 2016, IDF released a global report on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease, which included recommendations to reduce the burden of CVD amongst people with diabetes, and indeed the whole population, as follows:

  • Facilitating improved CVD patient education: public health measures to promote healthy diets, increased physical activity, and smoking cessation among people living with diabetes.
  • Identification of those at risk and related health policies: prioritising good blood pressure control in people with diabetes and urging national government implementation of non-communicable disease (NCD) monitoring systems.
  • Treatment of the early signs of CVD associated with diabetes: improving access to essential medicines.
  • Building awareness and expertise on CVD and diabetes: establishing a consensus on design of future studies on CVD in diabetes, to better compare progress in different areas.

Building the evidence base on the burden of diabetes and CVD is essential to drive urgent political action and as a result, help improve the health of people with diabetes and other NCDs. Currently, IDF is working on several forefronts to address these recommendations.

IDF Global CVD Survey

Taking Diabetes to Heart is a patient survey on CVD risk awareness and knowledge, which is aimed to further support the development of tools, educational resources, and policies designed to allow the implementation of the above recommendations. For instance an animated video with fictive story inspired by reality was developed to bring attention to the often-ignored linkage between diabetes and CVD. The multi-cultural study is available in nearly 30 languages, and data collection is still open until 31 May 2018. The interim results from the first nearly 1,000 respondents from December 2017 already show that 1 in 3 respondents considered themselves to be at low risk of CVD and 1 in 6 respondents had never discussed type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk with a healthcare professional.6

“From the interim results, we can already see a trend in the lack of awareness of the link between type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease among people with type 2 diabetes,” said Professor Nam Cho, President of IDF. “Following analysis of the full results, we hope to gain more valuable insights that can be used to inform strategies and tangible actions for promoting change in the diabetes community.”

Online Course for Healthcare Professionals

The IDF School of Diabetes has recently launched an online short course on diabetes and CVD targeting healthcare professionals caring for people with diabetes. The module aims to discuss the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, reviews types of CVD complication, its pathophysiology, screening and diagnostic tests and management strategies for CVD complications.

The course is freely accessible without any fees, after registering at the IDF School of Diabetes . The course takes one hour to be completed and is comprised of several parts: initial self-evaluation and pre-test; training on diabetes and CVD module; and finishing with the post-test and a final self-evaluation. On successful completion, participants are awarded with a Certification of Completion and 1 European CME credit (ECMEC®). Since February 2018, over one-hundred fifty enrollees have given the course an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.

In continuation of these efforts, IDF will shortly launch an online interactive diabetes and CVD educational and awareness tool targeting people with or at risk of type 2 diabetes, caregivers, and the public. The tool aims to guide people through a process that generates insightful conclusions, increases knowledge, encourages positive lifestyle, and empowers people with diabetes to improve self-management decisions and actions.

Advocacy Toolkit

IDF has developed a CVD in Diabetes advocacy toolkit for people living with diabetes and CVD, their caregivers, patient organisations, the media and local and national health authorities to advocate on helping to reduce the incidence of CVD in diabetes. This toolkit highlights relevant IDF, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Heart Federation (WHF) policies and key messages on CVD in diabetes. The toolkit provides an outline on how to develop a customised advocacy plan in seven steps, tailored to local context and environment and it includes a comprehensive package consisting of an elevator pitch, fact sheet and recommended solutions. To bring further attention to CVD in Diabetes, IDF created an advocacy video where people living diabetes from the seven IDF regions share about their experience on living with diabetes and the risk of CVD.

IDF School of Diabetes Diabetes and CVD course visual
IDF Advocacy Toolkit on CVD and Diabetes cover

BySuvi Karuranga

Suvi Karuranga is Epidemiology Manager at the International Diabetes Federation. She has five years international experience in global health research, access to medicines and programme development. She holds a master’s degree in public health from the Lund University and has a clinical background as a public health nurse in Europe and Africa.

By Anne Wiebke Ohlrogge

Anne Wiebke Ohlrogge (MSc) is currently a Junior Professional Officer at the International Diabetes Federation global office. She has a Bachelor and a Master Degree of Science in European Public Health (Governance & Leadership) from Maastricht University.


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