Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hypoglycemia connected with heart attack in diabetics

Today USA Today reported that hypoglycemia increases risk of heart attack in diabetics.

Remember my question in another blog post as to whether the risk of heart attack in diabetics affected all diabetics, or just type 2 diabetics? Well, this article says specifically that it applies to type 2 diabetics:

A recent event of hypoglycemia, or extremely low blood sugar, in type 2 diabetics was a major predictor of heart attack, stroke and death, a just-finished study by the Department of Veterans Affairs found.

Also, apparently in February another study found that tightly controlled sugars led to a greater chance of heart attack — perhaps because people with tightly controlled sugars tend to crash more often.

It's funny that this surprises people. I often tell people that the real danger is in my blood sugar going too low, not too high — high blood sugars cause problems over time, but lows can kill right then and there. So it doesn't surprise me that low sugars, not highs, are connected to heart attack.

Really, anyone who has felt the terrible heart-pounding feeling of a bad hypoglycemia episode won't be surprised by this finding.


MattB said...

Dear Ms. Swan, I find your posting most interesting because I'm a type one diabetic who has had two heart attacks, both of which were preceded by horrible insulin reactions which were not the result of insulin dose, food consumption, or activity. In both cases, I ate more than 100 grams of CHO without gining myself a particularly high blood sugar leve. I also had severe unexplained insulin reactions after the second heart attack, two so severe that ambulances had to be called. I ate huge amounts of CHO to counter the reactions; on both of the occasions on which I had to ask for ambulances, paramedics found my blood sugar to be 1.4, even though I'd eaten an amount of carb that would usually have been more than sufficient to raise my blood sugar. I'm caused to wonder whether it is possible that insulin reactions are predictors of heart attacks. It has been found that stressed muscles release free radicals that diminish insulin resistance; I'm wondering if it is possible that heart muscles, deprived of oxygen and glucose, may release some substance that suddenly reduces insulin resistance, thereby causing severe reactions in diabetics. Can't find anything published about this.

Katharine Swan said...


That really is very interesting. Do you by chance drink a lot? I've heard that hard liquor -- or is it alcohol in general? -- can actually lower blood sugar significantly and unexpectedly.

As for stressed muscles, isn't it exercise that decreases insulin resistance? I know that for a non-diabetic, when active their body reduces insulin production by 80 percent, which is why diabetics who take long-acting insulin (which makes for a fixed amount of insulin in your system) have to eat a snack before exercising.

Stress itself makes me more insulin resistant. This is because hormones increase insulin resistance, and stress tends to cause your body to release more hormones such as adrenaline.

I haven't heard anything of the reaction you are proposing, but I will keep my ear out just in case.