Diabetes and heart attack share a very close link, somewhat like that between cause and effect. It will not be an exaggeration to say that diabetes and heart attack go hand in hand. Diabetes is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and heart attack, including smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and high triglycerides levels in the blood. This is an established medical fact, but a large fraction of the general population is probably unaware of it.

What has diabetes got to do with a heart attack? Diabetes and heart attack are two entirely different diseases – one is related to the pancreas and the other to the heart, so how can there be anything common between diabetes and heart attack? Well, these are some of the important questions that might pop up in your mind and will be addressed here.

Diabetes and heart disease statistics

Statistics reveal that people with diabetes are at least twice as likely to develop cardiovascular diseases at a much younger age than those not having diabetes. They are also two to four times more likely to die upon suffering a heart attack compared to non-diabetics. 65% of diabetics die from a heart attack. The first heart attack in a patient suffering from diabetes can be as bad as a second or third heart attack is in a non-diabetic patient. It’s like diabetes brings a baggage of one or two previous heart attacks along with it, without you experiencing any.

People suffering from diabetes are also much more likely to develop other risk factors for heart attack, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, blockage in the arteries, blood clots, etc. In other words, having diabetes increases the morbidity, mortality and heart attack incidence in a patient suffering from heart disease. All these statistics undoubtedly establish a close link between diabetes and heart attack. Therefore, when heart disease develops in a diabetic patient and gets a heart attack, it is called diabetes myocardial infarction – the medical term for heart attack.

Diabetes myocardial infarction: How are diabetes and heart attack linked?

The link between diabetes and heart attack is multipronged. Diabetes, as you may know, implies high blood sugar (or glucose) levels or hyperglycemia and high insulin levels (in type II diabetes) due to insulin resistance. High glucose and high insulin levels in the blood can cause damage not only to the arteries and veins carrying the blood all around and the various organs such as the kidneys, heart, liver, etc. – in fact, eventually, every part of the body. Therefore, even if a patient has no previous history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes can cause it to develop. The reasons are manifold.

Firstly, diabetic patients generally tend to be obese because of their low metabolic rate. Secondly, diabetes by itself can give rise to elevated triglyceride levels, high LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol) levels, and low HDL (the so-called good cholesterol) levels in the blood. All these are high-risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and heart attack.

Another factor that enhances heart attacks in diabetics is what is known as ‘sticky blood.’ The high glucose and high insulin levels make the blood thick and the blood platelets very sticky. As a result of this, blood circulation becomes impaired, and clot formation is encouraged. Poor blood circulation can weaken the heart muscles due to an insufficient supply of oxygen, which impairs the heart’s pumping action. This, combined with other risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and plaque-clogged arteries, makes a perfect setting for a heart attack.

How to delink diabetes and heart attack?

If you are already suffering from heart-related problems, it is of utmost importance to not allow diabetes to set in. This is because diabetes can double to quadruple the chances of suffering and dying of heart attack than non-diabetic heart disease. On the other hand, even if you are an otherwise healthy person with no cardiovascular problems, you must keep your blood sugar levels in check because diabetes gradually ends up causing cardiovascular problems and heart attacks. So, in either case, the bottom line is to maintain healthy blood glucose and insulin levels, irrespective of whether you have any heart problem or are healthy. And this is how you can do that:

  • Reduce – preferably, completely stop – refined carbohydrates like white sugar, white flour, white rice, pasta, etc.
  • Consume only whole grains with the fiber intact, but that too in moderate amounts.
  • Increase dietary fiber intake in the form of fresh vegetables, greens, and fruits (high-fructose fruits only in limited amounts).
  • Strictly avoid trans fats, like those found in bakery items and fried snacks.
  • Keep saturated fat intake to a minimum.
  • Try switching to vegetarian protein sources like beans, lentils, kidney beans, etc. Their high fiber and low-fat content help keep blood sugar levels in check.
  • Lastly, say no to a sedentary lifestyle and go for regular brisk walks 3–4 times a week.

Remember, type II diabetes is more of a lifestyle disease. So, combining healthy eating habits with regular exercise can easily help you to stay diabetes and heart-attack-free.

Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes symptoms occur due to two major aspects of the disease.

  1. Metabolic derangement
  2. Peripheral vascular and organ involvement

Symptoms in type1 & type2 Diabetes

  • Polyurea (Increased urine output)
  • Polydipsia (Excessive thirst)
  • Polypahgia (Increased appetite)
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loose dry skin
  • Furred tongue
  • Cracked lips
  • Tachycardia (Increased heart rate)
  • Deep breathing
  • Numbness of limbs
  • Paresthesias (partial sensory loss) in the limbs
  • Hyperasthesias (Increased sensitivity) in the limbs
  • Pain (Deep-seated severe and often worse at night) in the limbs
  • Abnormalities of gait
  • Loss of foot arch with multiple foot bone fracture
  • Pruritis vulvae (Itching around vaginal area)

Type I diabetes is common before the age of 40. The peak incidence is around the age of 14,

Type II diabetes is common in old age when the patient is obese.

In Type II, the symptoms of metabolic derangement are controllable and less severe than Type1.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Diabetics

Monitor All the Heart Attack Symptoms in Diabetics Properly. It has been seen that people who have diabetes suffer from more risk of heart attack than people without diabetes. The main reason behind more Heart Attack Symptoms in Diabetics is that diabetics have extra bad LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and not much good HDL (High-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

What are the various symptoms that crop up?

The most common symptom of heart attack is chest pain. However, the worst part is that this does not apply to diabetics. Heart Attack Symptoms in Diabetics are pretty different. This is only because diabetes affects the nerves of your body. The condition is known as ‘diabetic neuropathy, and it implies that those suffering from diabetes lose their ability to feel pain. This happens in most cases. So a person, who is diabetic, can have a heart attack, but it is possible that he will not feel any pain in the chest. This is also called a silent heart attack. Therefore, it is very important to monitor patients to find out about heart disease and stroke problems.

A few other heart attack symptoms in diabetics

Those who already have suffered from a heart attack are more prone to risk than others are, and diabetes enhances the risk of heart disease. Other than chest pain, some other symptoms include shortness of breath, discomfort in arms, back, stomach and neck, extreme anxiety and weakness, sweating, indigestion, nausea, and feeling lightheaded. However, you should also remember that heart attack symptoms in women are quite different from men. Severe health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risk of a heart attack in women. The majority of the doctors take chest pain as the major sign of heart attack in both women and men. Still, the most frequently reported warning symptoms for heart attack in women include sleep disturbance, unusual fatigue, and brevity of breath.

Other symptoms and risk factors that you should monitor

You might sometimes experience a tight band above your chest or pain in your upper back, jaw, or even your neck. These are categorized as mild heart attack symptoms or ‘angina,’ which can occur because of physical exertion, heavy meals, exposure to extreme cold, intense emotion, and even from lying flat. Some of the mild symptoms are unstable due to blockage of blood vessels. This happens because diabetes can lead to complications in body parts like the heart and blood vessels. There are many heart attack risk factors, and some can be controlled, whereas some cannot. Some of the factors not under your control include family history, age, chronic kidney disease, etc. On the other hand, most other factors are controllable, like smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes etc.

Managing diabetes

You should manage diabetes by eating a balanced diet and by exercising regularly. In this way, you can control the factors for heart disease. It is important to monitor all the Heart Attack Symptoms in Diabetics and take medication properly.

If you keep these things in mind, you can lead a healthy life even if you suffer from diabetes.

Disclaimer: This Website is for information purposes only. You should consult your physician for correct diagnosis and treatment.