People with diabetes are known to fare worse after a heart attack than people without diabetes. Now, new research suggests that this is because diabetics experience a greater drop in blood pressure when the coronary vessels are blocked during an attack.
Finnish cardiologists led by Dr. K. E. Juhani Airaksinen from the University of Turku compared the blood pressure response in 238 non-diabetic and 32 diabetic patients during angioplasty. This procedure temporarily blocks blood flow to the heart as the balloon is inflated in the coronary artery.
The investigators report in the International Journal of Cardiology that patients with diabetes developed seriously low blood pressure nearly three times as often as non-diabetic patients.
Women were also more likely than men to experience low blood pressure during coronary blockage.
Airaksinen stated that “when a coronary artery suddenly becomes blocked in a diabetic patient, this blockage often induces a seriously low blood pressure and may increase the risk of sudden death during the early minutes of (a heart attack) in diabetics.”
International Journal of Cardiology, June 2004.