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Unsuspected diabetes common in heart patients


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Issue 24 Q3 2005

Unsuspected diabetes common in heart patients

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Diabetes often goes unrecognized -- and therefore untreated -- in people who suffer a heart attack or have severe coronary heart disease, according to new research.

Dr. Darcy Green Conaway told Reuters Health that "the majority of patients" who are seen in emergency rooms with a heart attack or heart-related chest pain "have impaired glucose metabolism," and this represents an opportunity for doctors to intervene. "Only once we recognize what we are missing can we then improve it."

Among 1,199 heart patients who were seen at two hospitals in Kansas City, Missouri, 57 percent had abnormal glucose levels, Conaway and colleagues found.

Of these, 321 (27 percent) had known diabetes. Among the remaining 878 patients, 126 (14 percent) had new-onset diabetes, based on their fasting blood glucose level, the team reports in the American Journal of Cardiology.

However, only 35 percent of the patients with newly detected diabetes were actually told about their condition and treated for diabetes. "The remaining 65 percent were left undiagnosed and, hence, untreated on discharge," the team notes.

"Importantly, we found a substantial number of patients who had high fasting plasma glucose levels," a pre-diabetes sign, but none of these patients received such a diagnosis.

Conaway and colleagues conclude in their report that "one way to 'catch' some of these undiagnosed patients" is to use a simple blood glucose test to screen people who go to the hospital because of a heart attack or severe chest pain.

SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology, August 1, 2005.

©2005 Reuters Health. Click for restrictions.

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