Diabetes of any variety is a damaging distortion of normal metabolism. Once in progress, it causes further harm on an ongoing basis. The type 2 diabetes most often seen in older people is a lifestyle condition: the vast majority of cases are caused by being overweight, and can be reversed even at a late stage by adoption of a low-calorie diet and consequent weight loss. So when researchers note that being diabetic greatly increases heart attack risk, it is an interesting question as to the degree to which this is because patients are overweight, independently of diabetes, versus the degree to which it is due to the mechanisms of diabetes itself. Excess visceral fat tissue produces chronic inflammation, and inflammation speeds the development of all of the common age-related conditions, but here the data suggests that weight should also be given to processes and damage specific to diabetes itself.
Having diabetes increases the risk of dying from the effects of a heart attack by around 50 per cent, a study has found. Researchers tracked 700,000 people who had been admitted to hospital with a heart attack between January 2003 and June 2013. Of these, 121,000 had diabetes. After stripping out the effects of age, sex, any other illnesses and differences in the emergency medical treatment received, the team found stark differences in survival rates. People with diabetes were 56 per cent more likely to have died if they had experienced a ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attack - in which the coronary artery is completely blocked - than those without the condition. They were 39 per cent more likely to have died if they had a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) heart attack - in which the artery is partially blocked - than those without diabetes.
"We knew that following a heart attack, you are less likely to survive if you also have diabetes. 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. This paper is the first to conclusively show that the adverse effect on survival is linked to having diabetes, rather than other conditions people with diabetes may suffer from. These results provide robust evidence that diabetes is a significant long-term population burden among patients who have had a heart attack. Although these days people are more likely than ever to survive a heart attack, we need to place greater focus on the long-term effects of diabetes in heart attack survivors."