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1 in 10 heart attack victims could have undiagnosed diabetes

Up to 10% of people who suffer a heart attack may also have diabetes without being aware of it, according to a new study.
Researchers in the U.S. examined data from more than 2,800 heart attack patients treated in hospitals across the country who were diabetes-free upon admission to hospital. They tested the patients’ HbA1c to determine their average blood sugar level for the previous 8-12 weeks, and found that:
• 1 in 10 of the patients was newly diagnosed with diabetes based on the HbA1c reading whilst receiving treatment for heart attack.
• Diabetes education or medication was given to less than a third of the 287 patients newly diagnosed with diabetes upon leaving hospital.
• Doctors failed to identify diabetes in over two-thirds (69%) of the previously undiagnosed patients, and were 17 times more likely to identify cases if they checked patients’ HbA1c test results during the heart attack.
• Six months after discharge, 71% of the study participants whose diabetes was recognised in hospital had started a course of drug treatment for the disease, compared to less than 7% of those whose diabetes remained undiagnosed.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Suzanne Arnold, assistant professor at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and lead author of the study, said: “Diagnosing diabetes in patients who have had a heart attack is important because of the role diabetes plays in heart disease.
“By recognising 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. 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 authors concluded that people who have a heart attack should ask to be tested for diabetes if they have other risk factors such as being overweight, high blood pressure or a family history of the disease.
The study findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014, and coincide with separate research published this week showing that women with diabetes face a higher risk of heart disease than their male counterparts.

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