Surprising findings about people who have suffered heart attacks reveal that many of these people may have diabetes – and not know it.
Research from the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014 found that about 10 percent of heart attack patients have undiagnosed diabetes, a condition that can raise the risk for cardiovascular events.
According to the American Heart Association, two out of three people with diabetes die from cardiovascular disease.
Patients from 24 US hospitals studied
A total of 2,854 patients from 24 U.S. hospitals were included in the study. Researchers tested the participants’ A1C levels, which determines blood sugar levels for the previous two to three months.
Findings showed that 287 patients (a little more than 10 percent) were newly diagnosed with diabetes while being treated for heart attack, and less than one-third of those 287 patients received any sort of diabetes medication or education when released from the hospital.
Even more discouraging was that doctors failed to diagnose diabetes in 69 percent of the previously undiagnosed patients, but they were 17 times more likely to recognize the blood sugar condition if they conducted an A1C test during treatment for heart attack.
Research highlights role diabetes plays in heart disease
Suzanne V. Arnold, M.D., M.H.A., lead study author and assistant professor at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and the University of Missouri at Kansas City, said that catching diabetes in patients who have experienced heart attacks is crucial because of the role diabetes plays when it comes to heart disease.
“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,” Arnold said. “Another important reason to diagnose diabetes at the time of heart attack is that it can guide the treatments for the patient’s coronary artery disease.”
The American Heart Association recommends that people who have had a heart attack be tested for diabetes.