Diabetics more likely to die after heart attack
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - While the treatment of people with diabetes who suffer a heart attack has improved, along with subsequent survival rates, mortality is still higher than in non-diabetics, a study shows.
Dr. Anna Norhammar, of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues assessed death rates and treatment patterns in 1995-1998 and 1999-2002 in 70,882 people younger than age 80 years -- 14,873 of whom had diabetes.
They report, in the medical journal Heart, that patients with diabetes have higher short- and long-term mortality rates after heart attack than those without diabetes.
"This pattern has remained even after the introduction of modern therapeutic principles," they write.
Specifically, the data show a decrease in the 1-year mortality rate from 1995 to 2002 from 16.6 percent to 12.1 percent in non-diabetic patients. In diabetic patients, 1-year mortality rates decreased from 29.7 percent to 19.7 percent.
Nonetheless, diabetic heart attack patients were more likely to die than non-diabetic attack patients. Diabetics had an adjusted relative 1-year mortality risk of 1.44 in 1995-1998 and 1.31 in 1999-2002.
Despite improvements in pre-admission and in-hospital treatment, patients with diabetes were less likely to receive immediate clot-busting therapy and revascularization procedures. Diabetic patients also less often received aspirin and lipid-lowering treatment at discharge.
There are "ample opportunities for further improvements in the care of diabetic patients" who suffer heart attack, Norhammar's team concludes.
While underlying co-illnesses in part account for the excess mortality in patients with diabetes, it can also be attributed to "a less than optimal use of established treatment modalities, especially lipid-lowering therapy and early revascularization."
SOURCE: Heart, December 2007.