New interesting research reveals that for patients who suffer a heart attack or have severe coronary heart disease --- acute cornonary syndrome or ACS --- symptoms of diabetes often present itself also, but the condition goes unrecognized and no clinical management is initiated to treat the impaired glucose metabolism.
Dr. Darcy Green Conaway told Reuters Health that "the majority of patients" who are seen in emergency rooms with a heart attack or heart-related chest pain "have impaired glucose metabolism," and this represents an opportunity for doctors to intervene. "Only once we recognize what we are missing can we then improve it."
"Importantly, we found a substantial number of patients who had high fasting plasma glucose levels," a pre-diabetes sign, but none of these patients received such a diagnosis.
Conaway and colleagues conclude in their report that "one way to 'catch' some of these undiagnosed patients" is to use a simple blood glucose test to screen people who go to the hospital because of a heart attack or severe chest pain.
[ Reuters Health, Aug 22 2005 ]
I suspect the reason why high fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels go undetected and unmanaged is because doctors most often see the rise in FPG levels as a normal outcome of the stress of a heart attack. Any form of stress tend to increase our blood glucose levels, our body's other way of responding to the fight-or-flight stimuli. Doctors don't usually get surprised when greeted with elevated FPG levels in patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS).
The authors of the study however, quote another revealing study that most patients who have newly-diagnosed diabetes during hospitalization for ACS continue to have increased glucose levels even after 3 months of the initial hospitalization or consult.
Read the full text of the study: Frequency of Undiagnosed Diabetes Mellitus in Patients With Acute Coronary Syndrome