Type 2 Diabetes: Risk After a Heart Attack

You've heard it before and you'll likely hear it again: type 2 diabetes increases your risk of heart disease.

While diabetes comes with a host of concerns, such as vision loss, amputation, and the like, heart disease is one of the most deadly.

But a new study sought to find out just how great this risk is – namely, how likely diabetics are to recover from a heart attack. “We knew that following a heart attack, you are less likely to survive if you also have diabetes,” said Dr. Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation. “However, we did not know if this observation was due to having diabetes or having other conditions which are commonly seen in people with diabetes.”

Researchers from the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine examined more than 700,000 people over 10 years – 120,000 of whom had diabetes. They removed all external factors from their data (such as age, sex, any other illnesses and differences in the emergency medical treatment received), and discovered that survival rates for those without diabetes were significantly better than those who had the disease.

In fact, among patients who had had a heart attacked when the coronary artery was fully blocked, the death rate for diabetics was 56 percent greater. If the artery was only partially blocked the death rate decreased, but remained at a startling 39 percent.

"These results provide robust evidence that diabetes is a significant long-term population burden among patients who have had a heart attack," said Dr. Chris Gale, a consultant cardiologist and lead researcher on the study.

So, what can we do about it? Dr. Anna Morris, head of research funding at Diabetes UK, put it simply:

“While researchers tackle this issue, we know that managing diabetes effectively can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This includes eating healthily, keeping active, and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor.”

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