Diabetes 'can elevate heart attack risk by 50%'

23 June 2016

A new study has indicated that people with diabetes may be at a greater risk of experiencing poor heart health.

Conducted by the University of Leeds, the large-scale study involved 700,000 people and offered evidence that more needs to be done to address the specific cardiovascular health challenges that diabetes poses at a time when the condition is becoming more and more widespread.

The research included individuals who had been admitted to hospital with a heart attack between January 2003 and June 2013. Of the 700,000 people involved, it was indicated that 121, 000 had diabetes, with pronounced differences in survival rates identified among these patients when excluding potentially influential factors such as age, gender, the presence of other illnesses and differences in the emergency medical treatment received.

Those with diabetes were calculated to be 56 per cent more likely to die if they had experienced an ST elevation myocardial infarction heart attack - which involves the complete blockage of an artery - than those without the condition. They were 39 per cent more likely to die as a result of a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction heart attack, in which the artery is partially blocked.

It confirms the previously observed trend that people who have heart attacks are less likely to survive if they also have diabetes, but prior to this it was not known whether this association could be linked to diabetes itself or to the other conditions that diabetic patients often experience at the same time.

Following up on this research, the team is looking to identify the exact biological cause of this connection, but in the meantime diabetic patients are being cautioned of the need to make sure they do all they can to reduce their cardiovascular disease risk, such as by eating healthily, keeping active and taking their medications as prescribed.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Gale, consultant cardiologist and associate professor at the University of Leeds school of medicine, said: "These results provide robust evidence that diabetes is a significant long-term population burden among patients who have had a heart attack. Although these days people are more likely than ever to survive a heart attack, we need to place greater focus on the long-term effects of diabetes in heart attack survivors.

"The partnership between cardiologists, GPs and diabetologists needs to be strengthened and we need to make sure we are using established medications as effectively as possible among high-risk individuals."

Diabetes is a lifelong and currently incurable condition characterised by excessively high blood sugar levels. At present, there are 3.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK, meaning around one in 16 members of the population have the disease, whether they currently realise it or not.

The number of people with diabetes has nearly trebled since 1996, when the figure stood at 1.6 million, and by 2025 it is predicted that the total will have risen as high as five million. As such, it is necessary to ensure that its full health implications are properly understood.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

 


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