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UMKC Study: Doctors Often Fail to Link Heart Attack and Diabetes

Doctors have known for some time that diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, so you would think that a heart attack would be a clue that a patient should be checked for diabetes. Unfortunately, a new study out of the University of Missouri at Kansas City suggests that such checks often are overlooked.

The consequences of such a failure to diagnose can be deadly. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the main cause of death of more than 71,000 Americans every year. It is a contributing factor in the deaths of more than 231,000 Americans. It’s also estimated that some 7 million Americans have the condition, but don’t know it.

The UMKC study looked at the records of 2,854 heart attack patients and who had never received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. That’s the most common form of the condition affecting the body’s ability to regulate sugar levels in the blood.

The data showed that of that group, 287 tested positive for diabetes during their heart attack care, but less than a third of them received diabetes information or treatment when they were discharged from the hospital. The review also showed that doctors missed markers for diabetes in 69 percent of the 287 patients, as revealed by A1C blood test results.

The chief author of the study says checking heart attack patients for possible diabetes is important because it can get them onto a regimen of diet, exercise and treatment that could prevent a further development of cardiovascular issues.

The advice from the authors is that people who suffer heart attacks should not be afraid to ask for the A1C test. They say it is especially important to have the check in the presence of other risk factors for heart trouble such as family history, high blood pressure or being overweight.

Source: Daily Rx, “Diabetes Often Went Unrecognized After Heart Attack,” Doug Hanson, June 3, 2014