Diabetes-cardiovascular links often overlooked

16 Jul 2015

University of Queensland diabetes expert Professor Peter Little AM has used National Diabetes Week to remind people of the often-overshadowed consequences and contributors to the condition.

Professor Little, the School of Pharmacy head, said people commonly failed to make the association between diabetes and the cardiovascular diseases it causes.

“Diabetes is a significant contributor to cardiovascular disease, which is one of Australia’s biggest killers,” Professor Little said.

“Diabetes, coronary heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure and cholesterol are all closely related.

“In fact, you could make a good argument that diabetes is a cardiovascular disease.”

Professor Little has received an Order of Australia award for his service to Diabetes Australia and diabetes research. He has published more than 150 international papers, been cited more than 4000 times and generated five drug patents through his work.

In 2006, on behalf of Diabetes Australia, he finalised the $750 million National Diabetes Services Scheme Agreement.

The program continues to support people in Australia with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Professor Little has offered commentary on research linking Type 1 diabetes to distressing childhood experiences, and also commented on the elevated risk of heart attack for people suffering both depression and Type 2 diabetes.

“There are increasingly diverse findings about how diabetes manifests itself,” Professor Little said.

“A study from Scandinavia reported a 200 per cent increased risk of future diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes for children who endured a stressful event such as the death of a sibling, parent or grandparent.

“Although this displays considerably less risk than hereditary factors, the research monitored more than 10,000 children, so it is a substantial finding.

“The study around Major Depressive Disorder came from the medical records of more than 300,000 people in the US and showed that, together, depression and Type 2 diabetes increased the risk of a heart attack by 80 per cent.”

Since arriving at UQ in June as the Head of the School of Pharmacy, Professor Little has actively continued his specialist diabetes research.

Among the academics working in his school are PhD student Ganesh Kokil and Dr Harendra Parekh, publishers of a high-impact comparison of diabetes treatments in May.

About 380 million people have diabetes around the world, and that number is tipped to rise to 600 million by 2030.

Media: Robert Burgin +617 3346 3035, +61 0448 410 364, r.burgin@uq.edu.au .