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Over 10 percent of Heart Attack Patients may have Undetected Diabetes

Update Date: Jun 03, 2014 01:34 PM EDT

Early detection of diseases can reduce people's risk of complications and increase their survival rates. People who are diagnosed with medical conditions can actively take preventive measures as well. According to new research, more than 10 percent heart attack patients have undiagnosed diabetes.

"Diagnosing diabetes in patients who have had a heart attack is important because of the role diabetes plays in heart disease," said Suzanne V. Arnold, M.D., M.H.A., the study's lead author and assistant professor at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute and the University of Missouri at Kansas City. "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. 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."

For this study, the researchers examined available data on 2,854 heart attack patients who were treated in 24 hospitals throughout the United States. All of the patients were unaware of the fact that they had diabetes. The researchers tested their A1C levels, which calculates the patient's blood sugar levels within the past two to three months.

Overall, 10.1 percent or 287 patients were diagnosed with diabetes based on their A1C levels. Out of this group of people, less than one third of them had received any medications or education about their health condition when they were discharged from the hospital. In terms of diabetes detection, doctors did not detect diabetes in 69 percent or 198 patients. Doctors were 17 times more likely to identify the condition when they had information on the A1C levels measured during the heart attack.

The researchers added that heart attack patients should ask for a diabetes test especially if they had a family history of the disease. Patients with risk factors, such as being overweight or obese, physical inactivity and hypertension should also ask for a diabetes test. The study was presented at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014.

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