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There is no question that two of the biggest health crises facing America today are heart disease and diabetes.
To illustrate, consider that the Heart Foundation estimates that more than 920,000 Americans will suffer a heart attack over the course of the coming year, and that roughly half of these heart attacks will occur without any symptoms or other warning signs. As if this wasn’t scary enough, the nonprofit predicts that heart disease will officially become the leading cause of death around the globe as soon as 2020.
The outlook doesn’t get much better concerning diabetes, as statistics show that the disease — which can cause blood sugar levels to spike to dangerously high levels — is currently affecting 25.8 million Americans with an estimated seven million going undiagnosed with the condition.
This is important given that diabetes can greatly increase the risk of a heart attack, and the American Heart Association has found that two out of every three people suffering from diabetes eventually die from cardiovascular disease.
All of these facts and figures take on an even greater significance, however, in the context of a recent study presented at the latest meeting of the American Heart Association.
After examining the medical records for 2,854 heart attack patients treated at one of 24 U.S. hospitals, the researchers determined that the heart attacks in as many as 10 percent of the patients were associated with undiagnosed diabetes. They arrived at this stunning conclusion after performing tests measuring the patients’ A1C levels, a metric used to measure blood sugar levels.
As if all of this wasn’t shocking enough, the researchers found that hospital physicians had failed to diagnose diabetes in as many as 69 percent of the patients, and that a simple check of A1C levels during the heart attack would have increased the likelihood of a diabetes diagnosis by 17 times.
Furthermore, the researchers found that only seven percent of those patients whose diabetes went entirely undiagnosed during their time in the hospital went on to start treatment for their condition, while 71 percent of those whose diabetes was diagnosed during their time in the hospital secured the necessary treatment to manage their condition.
As explained above, undiagnosed diabetes can have potentially dangerous health consequences, especially as they relate to the heart.
“By recognizing and treating diabetes early, we may be able to prevent additional cardiovascular complications through diet, weight loss and lifestyle changes in addition to taking medications,” said the primary author of the study. “Another important reason to diagnose diabetes at the time of heart attack is that it can guide the treatments for the patient’s coronary artery disease.”
This is truly a shocking report and clearly suggests that treatment failures can occur at a variety of levels from the internist or cardiologist who failed to diagnose the diabetes well before the heart attack to the emergency room physician or hospitalist who failed to run the necessary tests during the heart attack.
If a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis has caused you or a loved one to suffer unnecessary pain and suffering, consider speaking with a dedicated legal professional to learn more about how you can seek justice and secure peace of mind for the future.
Source: Medical Daily, “Diabetes may cause heart attacks when doctors fail to diagnosis the disease,” Samantha Olson, June 3, 2014