Science - November 15, 2012

Diabetics more at risk after heart attack

Researchers argue for emphasis on nutrition and lifestyle advice

Diabetic patients who have had one heart attack are more prone to cardiovascular disease than regular heart patients, although they get the same treatment. Their health stands to gain, then, from a more intensive approach, with an emphasis on food and lifestyle. Wageningen epidemiologists show this with a re-analysis of data collected earlier. Their study was published on 31 October in the British Medical Journal Open.
Heart attack patients with diabetes fare worse than regular survivors of heart attacks on numerous risk factors. For example, they suffer from obesity one and a half to two times more often. Moreover, their blood pressure is higher and their levels of 'good' HDL cholesterol are significantly lower. This happens even though they are prescribed medicines in the same quantities as regular heart patients.
The researchers think that this group of patients could be treated more effectively. Relatively little attention has been paid to nutrition and lifestyle advice, for example. By itself, diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases by a factor of two to four. The guidelines therefore stipulate that these patients should be on more medication than regular patients are.
The number of people with type 2 diabetes is growing rapidly worldwide, in the wake of the increase in obesity. It is often possible to reverse the condition through more exercise and better eating habits.