With the epidemic of diabetes, the annual number of diabetics who have a heart attack has doubled over the past ten years, researchers say. Almost 13,000 people with type 2 diabetes are now treated for a heart attack every year. In 1996, the number was under 6,000. The proportion of hospital admissions for strokes and angina has also doubled among diabetics, while the rate of keyhole heart surgery has risen fourfold in the last decade.
This mirrors the rise in cases of type 2 diabetes, from 1.4million in 1996 to two million today in the UK. And this problem is mirrored in the US.
Libby Dowling, a care adviser at Diabetes UK, said: "The numbers are growing and reaching epidemic proportions. We are seeing people diagnosed younger and so the complications are likely to happen earlier.
"Type 2 diabetes is clearly linked to obesity and being overweight – 80 per cent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight. "We are seeing a society that is more overweight and less active and that is going to predispose more people to type 2 diabetes."
The latest study, released today at a Glasgow conference, was conducted by researchers from Imperial College in London and Leicester University. They compared the records of cardiac treatments carried out in English hospitals between April 2005 and March 2006 with those from April 1995 to March 1996.
The analysis showed that diabetics accounted for 13.9 per cent of patients treated for a heart attack in the later period, up from 7.2 per cent a decade ago. Angina admissions had more than doubled, from 6.7 per cent to 15.3 per cent, while the proportion of diabetics among those being treated for strokes had risen from 6.1 per cent to 11.3 per cent.
The researchers looked only at type 2 diabetes, the most common form. This is usually identified in middle age, although Britons’ expanding waistlines mean more children are being diagnosed with it.
The high blood sugar levels among those with diabetes make them five times as likely to develop heart disease as the rest of the population.
Douglas Smallwood, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, added: "This research is particularly worrying as 100,000 people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year and around 80 per cent of people with diabetes die of heart-related complications.
"Good diabetes management can reduce the risk of heart disease by 56 per cent.
"It is vital that people with diabetes have access to high quality care to enable them to control their condition, or we could see this heart time-bomb explode with huge costs to people’s health and an already overburdened NHS."
The figures on heart disease provide a stark reminder of the horrifying toll of obesity on health. Being severely overweight can take nine years off a person’s lifespan and raise their risk of breast and bowel cancer, infertility and depression.
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