Management of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Older Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: 2002–2012 Literature Review


  • Gerardo Moreno MD, MSHS,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Family Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    • Address correspondence to Gerardo Moreno, MD, MSHS, 10880 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1800, Los Angeles, CA 90024. E-mail:

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Carol M. Mangione MD, MSPH

    1. Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    2. Department of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    Search for more papers by this author


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) is one of the most common chronic conditions in older adults and is often accompanied by comorbidities and geriatric syndromes. The management of cardiovascular disease risk factors in older adults with DM is important to clinicians. The literature was reviewed from 2002 to 2012 to provide an American Geriatrics Society expert panel with an evidence base for updating and making new recommendations for improving the care of older adults with type 2 DM. This review includes only the domains of the management of blood pressure, lipid control, glycemic control, and use of aspirin. Over the last 10 years, new randomized controlled trials (RCT) designed to study different blood pressure treatment targets did not find evidence that intensive systolic blood pressure control (<130 mmHg) resulted in lower rates of myocardial infarction and mortality than less-intensive control. There are risks of side effects with achieving systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mmHg. Lipid-lowering statins are effective in reducing cardiovascular events in middle-aged and older adults, but data on niacin and fibrates is limited. Trials of statins and other lipid-lowering agents do not evaluate the cardiovascular effects on outcomes from treating lipids to different low-density lipoprotein cholesterol targets. No RCTs of lipid-lowering drugs enrolled significant numbers of adults aged 80 and older with or without DM. Three major RCTs that investigated intensive glycemic control did not find reductions in primary cardiovascular endpoints, and one study reported greater mortality with glycosylated hemoglobin of less than 6%. Two recently published RCTs were designed to study the cardiovascular benefits of aspirin use by individuals with DM. Neither trial found significantly fewer primary cardiovascular endpoints with aspirin than in control groups. Overall, RCTs enrolled few adults aged 80 and older or with significant comorbidities. More research is needed for clinicians to effectively customize care to older adults with DM because of heterogeneity in health status, comorbidities, duration of disease, frailty and functional status, and differences in life expectancy.