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05:22 AM

ABC 7: Early Diabetes Diagnosis Doubles Chances of Heart Attack, Stroke

ABC 7 recently interviewed Raj Khandwalla, MD, assistant professor at the Smidt Heart Institute, about new research from the American Heart Association that shows the age a patient is diagnosed with diabetes could significantly raise or lower their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

“If you develop diabetes before the age of 40, you more than double your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or even dying,” Khandwalla said. "We know that increases in blood sugar actually can lead to inflammation. And we know inflammation is a really important part of developing heart disease." 

The new research, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Circulation, also found that patients who developed diabetes in their 80s did not experience a decrease in their life expectancy.

“The longer that you have diabetes, the longer that you have a risk of developing heart disease,” Khandwalla said. “What this means is really we should be focusing our efforts to try to prevent people from developing diabetes early in life. It can make a huge difference in people's long-term outcomes.”

Khandwalla’s patient, Rabbi Howard “Svi” Hollander, 60, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was 35. But he didn't know such an early diagnosis made him more susceptible to diabetes, until he had a heart attack and learned his right coronary artery was 98 percent blocked. .

"I felt there was an elephant on my chest," Hollander said, adding that he believes he "dodged a bullet." 

“I didn't realize that diabetes could have lead to heart disease and thank God we have people who are keeping aware of those things and they saved my life,” said Hollander.

Click here to watch the complete story by ABC 7 health reporter Denise Dador. 

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: New Developments in Diabetes