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Study highlights risk of diabetes

Study highlights risk of diabetes
7th July 2016

Although precise figures about the prevalence of diabetes in care homes are difficult to establish, with a high population of elderly people in residential homes, diabetes care is often something that has to be considered.

A new study, carried out by the University of Leeds, found that people with diabetes are much more vulnerable to heart attacks.

By looking at a pool of 700,000 patients who had been admitted to hospital for a heart attack between 2003 and 2013 , the research found that people with diabetes were at a much higher risk of dying from a heart attack, compared to those without the condition.

They found that the 121,000 who had been diagnosed with diabetes when taken into hospital with heart problems had different outcomes to those without the condition.

After adjusting for other factors that could affect the results - such as age, sex, treatment given, and any other illnesses or conditions - the researchers calculated that diabetic patients were 56 per cent more likely to have died if they suffered a ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attack, compared to those without the condition.

For non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) heart attacks, the team found that people with diabetes were 39 per cent more likely to die than people who had not been diagnosed with the condition.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, said people with diabetes are less likely to have positive outcomes after a heart attack. However, it was previously unclear as to whether this is a result of diabetes itself or the other problems that are often seen in people with the condition, such as being overweight.

The research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, provides "robust evidence" that diabetes is a significant long-term problem for people who have had a heart attack, lead researcher Dr Chris Gale, consultant cardiologist and associate professor at the School of Medicine at University of Leeds, said.

With treatment for heart attacks having improved dramatically, more patients are now surviving these traumatic events. However, there needs to be a greater focus on the role that being diabetic can play on the risk after a heart attack, Dr Gale explained.

He also highlighted the importance of improving communication between healthcare professionals for supporting diabetes care.

"The partnership between cardiologists, GPs and diabetologists needs to be strengthened and we need to make sure we are using established medications as effectively as possible among high-risk individuals," Dr Gale explained.

The study highlights that activities and care plans to help manage diabetes, such as occupational therapy and exercise, can also help to improve the overall health of people within care homes.

By helping people manage their condition, care home staff - like dieticians and occupational therapists - can help to reduce the risk of an individual suffering from diabetes-related problems.

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