Comprehensive management of patients with type 2 diabetes: establishing priorities of care [review]
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Type 2 diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder characterized by elevated blood glucose levels and a marked increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The increased CVD risk is caused by a unique cluster of metabolic abnormalities, including dyslipidemia, hypertension, insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia. To reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications in patients with type 2 diabetes, comprehensive management of risk factors is essential. Aggressive treatment of dyslipidemia and hypertension is known to benefit patients with type 2 diabetes. In addition, intensive glycemic control and targeted treatment of insulin resistance can further reduce the enormous burden of CVD in this high-risk population. Increasing evidence suggests that insulin resistance is one of the earliest markers of risk for both CVD and diabetes, and it is known that insulin resistance alone can significantly increase the risk of CVD. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance are both associated with disordered lipid metabolism, manifest in elevated triglyceride levels, low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and small, dense low-density lipoprotein cholesterol particles. Patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance have an increased risk of hypertension, which further contributes to their CVD risk. Each of these factors can also contribute to the risk of microvascular disease. To ensure that patients with type 2 diabetes receive comprehensive, high-quality care, specific standards have been developed. These standards can help providers establish clear treatment targets, identify specific priorities of care, and use therapies of known efficacy to reduce the risk of complications. This review summarizes the current standards of care for patients with type 2 diabetes, with an emphasis on treatments that reduce the cardiovascular risk factors. Using a case study approach, it reviews the essential components of diabetes care and proposes a rational approach to these complex cases--an approach that should result in consistent, high-quality care.