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Having diabetes hinders heart attack recovery

22 June 2016

10-year study uncovers cardiovascular risk

Having diabetes increases the risk of dying from the effects of a heart attack, according to a 10-year study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Comparing survival rates over 10 years

Researchers at the University of Leeds followed 700,000 people that had had a heart attack between 2003 and 2013. The team found significant differences between the survival rates in those with diabetes (121,000 people) and those without. 

Over the course of the study, there were over 280,000 STEMI heart attacks and 420,000 NSTEMI heart attacks. STEMI (ST elevation myocardial infarction) heart attacks occur when the coronary artery is completely blocked, while NSTEMI (non-ST elevation myocardial infarction) heart attacks happen when the artery is partially blocked.

After removing factors that might affect the results, such as age, gender and year of diagnosis, the researchers looked at the individuals that died following a heart attack. They compared the numbers of those with and without diabetes. 

They found that people with diabetes were 56 percent more likely to die after a STEMI heart attack, and 39 percent more likely to die after a NSTEMI heart attack compared to those without the condition. 

Partnerships & prevention

Lead researcher Dr Chris Gale, Consultant Cardiologist and Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, said: “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.

"The partnership between cardiologists, GPs and, diabetologists needs to be strengthened.”

Anna Morris, Head of Research Funding at Diabetes UK, said: “This research adds to the evidence that having diabetes specifically can impact on your ability to recover from a heart attack. 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. It’s essential that people with diabetes get the support they need to do this effectively, and that we continue to fund research across the UK aimed at preventing the onset of complications in the first place.” 

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