NATIONAL (NBC) - Diabetes affects about 20 million Americans, and a new study has some alarming news for diabetics who have a heart attack.
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston analyzed data on more than 60,000 patients from 1997 to 2006.
Researcher Dr. Garrick Stewart said, "What the study found is that diabetics who have heart attacks, both small heart attacks or large heart attacks, are at significantly increased risk of dying through the first year after their heart attack compared to patients who don't have diabetes."
Diabetics don't produce or properly use insulin, which is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can damage your blood vessels. And despite advances in treating heart problems from chest pain to heart attacks, diabetics are still at an increased risk.
Dr. Stewart explains "not enough has been done to make the link between diabetes and preventing heart disease."
The best advice is to prevent diabetes if possible.
Dr. Stewart says "most diabetes is what we call type 2 diabetes related to obesity, inactivity, and if people are more active, watch their diets, they can prevent the development of diabetes and reduce their risk of ever having a heart attack."
In addition to heart disease, diabetics are at an increased risk for other health problems, such as the eyes, nerves and kidneys.
This study was in the Journal of the American Medical Association.