Diabetics may not feel the classic heart attack symptoms like acute chest pain, which could make the episode more deadly for them, says a new study. The study published in the journal BMJ Open examined data from detailed interviews with 39 adults in the UK who had been diagnosed with diabetes and had also experienced a heart attack. The study revealed that while most participants felt a minute chest pain, but it didn't seem like a warning signal.
Study co-author Dr. Melvyn Jones of University College London, explained that long term diabetes could damage your heart in many ways (increased blocking of the heart's blood vessels), but at the same time it can also take a toll on your nerves.
Just as some diabetics cant not feel the stubbing of their toe, they also feel less pain from damaged heart muscle when the blood supply gets cut off, so they don't feel the crushing chest pain of a heart attack.
For the study, all patients ranged in age from 40 to 90 who received care at one of three hospitals in London. Most were male, and roughly half were white. The majority of the participants had type 2 diabetes, which happens when the body can't properly use insulin to convert blood sugar into energy. Four of them had type 1 diabetes, a lifelong condition that develops when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow blood sugar to enter cells.
Most of the partcipants felt like their pain wasn't severe enough to be a heart attack or didn't consider the discomfort they felt in their chest as similar to what they would expect with a heart attack. This may have resulted in delayed attention and care the episode required, placing them at lower survival odds and a higher risk of complications and disability for people who do live through the event
So while the biology of the heart attack is the same, degree of nerve damage (neuropathy) in patients with advanced diabetes could place them ata higher risk on sensing the danger just in time.
Experts advise not to take even the minutest of chest pain lightly, diabetics should also be regular with theirfollow-up with their physicians, keep their blood sugars well controlled, lead a heart-healthy lifestyle, avoid the development of cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
They should keep away from:
- Trans fats from deep-fried foods.
- Packaged and fast foods, especially those high in sugar, baked goods, sweets, chips, desserts.
- White bread, sugary cereals, refined pastas or rice.
- Processed meat and red meat from animals fed with antibiotics, growth hormones and GMO feed.
- Low-fat products that have replaced fat with added sugar, such as fat-free yoghurt.