The risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in patients with diabetes mellitus is increased more than 3-fold and is the major cause of mortality and morbidity in diabetic patients. Historically, diabetes has been considered an inadequate insulin response leading to elevated plasma glucose levels with morbidities attributable to hyperglycemia. However, diabetes represents a complex pathology that often includes hypertension, dyslipidemia, endothelial dysfunction, microalbuminuria, platelet disaggregation, abnormal fibrinolysis, and chronic inflammation. Furthermore, oxidative stress has been shown to contribute to the pathology of diabetic CVD, having implications in the development of hypertension, renal disease, and stroke. Hypertension is a common feature of diabetes and is the primary contributor to CVD, which highlights the importance of blood pressure control (<130/80mm Hg). Recent investigations have also implicated the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in promoting oxidative stress-induced endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, and insulin resistance. These pathophysiologic considerations will be important in developing prevention strategies for CVD in diabetes. Further research is needed to identify antioxidant and insulin-sensitizing agents that will improve CVD outcomes in patients with diabetes.
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