heart attack and undiagnosed diabetes
June 4, 2014

Over 10 Percent Of Heart Attack Patients Could Have Undiagnosed Diabetes

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

One out of every 10 individuals who have had a heart attack may have undiagnosed diabetes, according to research presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014.

As part of the study, a team of researchers led by Dr. Suzanne V. Arnold, an assistant professor at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studied the medical data of more than 2,800 heart attack patients at 24 US hospitals, none of who had been previously diagnosed with diabetes.

According to Robert Preidt of HealthDay News, Dr. Arnold’s team found that 10 percent of patients were newly diagnosed with diabetes while they were being treated for their heart attack. However, less than one-third of those individuals were provided with diabetes-related educational material or medication before being released.

The study also found that doctors failed to recognize diabetes in 69 percent of those previously undiagnosed patients, but were 17 times more likely if they checked A1C test results during the heart attack. In addition, six months after their discharge, less than seven percent of the unrecognized diabetes patients during their hospital stay had started taking medication for the disease, compared to 71 percent of those who had been diagnosed.

“Diagnosing diabetes in patients who have had a heart attack is important because of the role diabetes plays in heart disease,” Dr. Arnold explained in an American Heart Association statement.

“By recognizing and treating diabetes early, we may be able to prevent additional cardiovascular complications through diet, weight loss and lifestyle changes in addition to taking medications,” she continued, adding that diagnosing diabetes following a heart attack “can guide the treatments for the patient’s coronary artery disease.”

Diabetes, which can cause a patient’s blood glucose levels to reach dangerous levels, can significantly increase his or her risk of suffering from a heart attack, the American Heart Association said. In fact, the organization said statistics indicate that two-thirds of diabetes patients die as a result of cardiovascular disease.

“People who have a heart attack should ask for a diabetes test if they have a family history of the disease or other risk factors such as overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure,” the association advised. “Those already diagnosed with diabetes should also ask for more information on the disease and how to manage it.”

Last month, researchers discovered that increasing severity of heart failure was associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes. Previous research from those same scientists had found an increased risk of diabetes in patients experiencing heart failure following a heart attack, but the new study looked at heart failure in patients independent of whether or not they experienced a cardiac event.