Hand writing Diabetes with blue marker on transparent wipe board.

Last week the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association launched the Know Diabetes by Heart™ initiative. The goal is to raise awareness about the increased risk for cardiovascular disease for patients with type 2 diabetes.

The initiative will incorporate evidence-based guidelines for clinicians treating patients with both conditions, include quality improvement efforts for hospitals and physician practices and educational materials for patients on how to manage diabetes and reduce their risk for cardiovascular problems.

Tracey D. Brown, the CEO of the American Diabetes Association, shared “I am a type 2 diabetic and I have been living with this for 15 years. This is personal for me and it is very real. There are over 30 million Americans who are living with diabetes and [that number] is growing. Someone dies from diabetes and its complications every 6 and a half minutes.”

In a recent Harris Poll survey of adults with type 2 diabetes aged at least 45 years, only about half of those surveyed recognized their risk or discussed their increased risk for myocardial infarction or stroke with a healthcare provider, according to the ADA.

Brown added, “Cardiovascular disease is the number one complication of type 2 diabetes, noting that a person with diabetes is diagnosed with stroke, on average, every 2 minutes, whereas a person with diabetes is diagnosed with heart disease, on average, every 80 seconds. Those living with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease compared with those without diabetes.”

This isn’t a problem. It truly is an epidemic,” Brown said. “Epidemics of this proportion require us to think differently, collaborate differently and partner in new and different ways.That is why I am so excited about this partnership.This is about saving lives.”

“The public health impact and growing threat of diabetes and cardiovascular disease are too significant for any one organization to tackle alone,” said Nancy A. Brown, CEO of AHA. “Our collaboration with the American Diabetes Association and industry supporters is crucial for developing meaningful solutions and offering practical tools and information that can help those living with type 2 diabetes find inspiration and take action toward improving their health and decreasing their risk of heart disease.”

The unawareness of personal risk burden among many of those with diabetes spurred the need for a new partnership, according to William T. Cefalu, MD, chief scientific, medical and mission officer for the ADA. He added, “what is exciting to me is that science is driving this initiative. Everything we are doing to promote awareness is going to be based on the science.”

The organizations announced two new programs under the Know Diabetes by Heart initiative, including the introductory episode of the “Ask the Expert” series beginning Wednesday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m. (CT); featuringJoan Bardsley MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE, assistant vice president of nursing and research integration for MedStar Health Research Institute and MedStar Corporate Nursing. This event is offered at no charge. Visit www.diabetes.org/experts for more information and additional details on future events.

In addition, the initiative is offering a 12-month Living With Type 2 Diabetes Program, consisting of 6 free online courses for patients aimed at improving understanding of how to best manage type 2 diabetes, including reducing the risk for cardiovascular complications. Learn more.


  1. American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association launch
  2. landmark health initiative—Know Diabetes by Heart™ [news release]. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association; November 8, 2018. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/american-heart-association-and-american-diabetes-association-launch-landmark-health-initiativeknow-diabetes-by-heartTM. Accessed November 8, 2018.