This is a story about the silent heart attack that ended the life of Michael-A Diabetic.
This easy-going man, a husband, and father, was sure his Type 2 Diabetes was nothing to worry about. He had it under control.
What he didn’t know was that:
At the time, 1/4 of the heart attacks recorded in The UK(where he lived) each year were the silent type.
The Silent Heart Attack can be very dangerous – and people with diabetes are at greatest risk.
And yet he thought he had it under control and he’d dismiss all warnings by saying “It’s the non-serious type” about his diabetes.
The attitude is understandable in some ways: He had never experienced any obvious ill-effects even after having diabetes for 28 years. In fact, he was initially diagnosed following a routine test, and without having had any symptoms of diabetes.
He compared himself to a family friend who had Type 1 Diabetes. He was lucky, he insisted. At least he didn’t have to monitor his blood sugar levels every few hours and inject himself with insulin with every meal.
Then one night, two years ago, he went to sleep and never woke up.
At just 53 years old, he’d suffered the silent heart attack – a little-known complication of diabetes, the possibility that most Type 2 Diabetics often ignore.
It’s the “Not Me” Syndrome, and it’s a lie.
It’s a lie to yourself, your family, your friends, your employer. And it’s time to get real. At least, consider the possibility, if not the likelihood, that it can and may happen to you or a loved one.
The silent heart attack is just that: almost symptomless. It happens without any chest pain or other symptoms normally associated with a heart attack.
But they’re just as dangerous – if not more so – as a normal heart attack. Surprisingly, they’re also pretty common.
The nerve damage linked to diabetes can prevent warning signals from being transmitted in the usual way.
In turn, this can lead to a delay in seeking treatment, thus allowing damage to the blood vessels and heart muscle, which makes a heart attack more likely to be the cause of death.
How It Happens:
➡ Heart attacks happen when one or more of your coronary arteries (which supply blood to the heart) become blocked.
The heart attack is usually a result of a fatty plaque breaking off from the artery wall, triggering a blood clot.
➡ When the blood supply to the heart is reduced, the body produces chemicals that affect nerves and trigger pain. It’s the body’s warning shot.
People often describe the pain of a heart attack as a crushing sensation in the chest, or pain in the jaw, arms or neck.
➡ These pains can be the signals that alert you to the fact that you’re having a heart attack, prompting you to get help.
But someone having a silent attack won’t have these prompts.
➡ Instead, they’ll have vague symptoms like shortness of breath without having done anything strenuous, or feeling as if they have the flu.
In fact, three days before Michael died, he woke up feeling like he had the flu, all achy and tired. He went to his doctor, a general practitioner, who diagnosed his symptoms as “a virus.”
The rest of the week, he dragged himself to work but felt rough, according to his widow.
When he still didn’t feel better by that Friday, she wanted to make another doctor’s appointment for him but he insisted it was “just a cold.”
After dinner that evening he said he felt “yuck” and went to bed at about 8.30 pm.
When she found him the next morning, he was still lying on his back and had not moved all night. He was unresponsive. She saw perspiration on his upper lip and immediately knew something was wrong.
Even throwing water over him got her no response, so she panicked and called an ambulance.
He was rushed to a hospital but died later that day of a second massive heart attack.
The tragedy is that diabetics often miss out on the vital, prompt treatment that could save their lives.
Their insistence that there’s nothing wrong prevents them from getting an accurate diagnosis and having their arteries cleaned out before blockages cause too much damage to their hearts or lead to heart failure.
People who have had previous heart attacks are also at risk for the silent attack, and so are women.
By far the biggest risk, however, is for the 29.1 million people in the United States who have diabetes, especially for the 8.1 million who may be diabetic but have no formal diagnosis yet.
More than one out of every 10 adults 20 years of age or older has diabetes.
In Type 2 Diabetes, the body becomes less sensitive to the effects of insulin, or the pancreas produces some, but not enough, for the body’s needs.
And, if you follow this website, you know that the main risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes is being overweight and/or having a sedentary lifestyle.
And we always come back to this. Always. Type 2 Diabetes can be managed simply. Your progress is impeded only by your choices.
➡ Switch to a healthier lifestyle, get some exercise, get enough sleep, do whatever it takes to reduce your stress level.
➡ Don’t let the fact that you don’t have to inject yourself with insulin multiple times a day or wear an insulin pump, lull you into a false sense of security.
➡ Do not allow the fact that your blood sugar levels are “pretty good” or that you see yourself losing some weight, trick you into feeling safe.
Understand this: Type 2 Diabetes is just as serious as Type 1.
The causes are different, but the end result is still a build-up of glucose in the blood – which can have a devastating effect on your body. Read a few of the articles under the “Your Risks” menu on this website. Inform yourself.
Take a look at the potential results of Type 2 Diabetes by clicking the links below:
- Heart Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Kidney Failure
- Diabetic Retinopathy/Vision Loss
- Diabetic Gum Disease
- Hearing Loss
- Nerve Damage-Amputations
- Sexual Dysfunction
Scary, isn’t it?
According to the National Diabetes Audit, people with Type 2 diabetes are 48% more likely to have a heart attack than those without the condition – and they’re at risk for nerve damage causing a silent heart attack.
Dr. David Cavan, director of policy and programs at the International Diabetes Federation, explains:
‘If someone is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and does nothing to improve their lifestyle, the outlook is very bleak. That’s the tragedy of it.’
But sadly, many, like Michael Green, don’t realize that.
- He was taking both Metformin and Gliclazide.
- He also had the regular check-ups advised for those with diabetes.
- He went to his general practitioner for his diabetic check-up every three months
- He regularly went to the optician to check his eyes
- He visited a podiatrist to check his feet for signs of nerve damage.
The two things he never addressed were his weight or his lifestyle.
- He didn’t exercise and was seriously overweight, according to his widow Joanne.
- He did manage to lose weight twice but didn’t keep it off.
Exercise plays a major part in managing Type 2 Diabetes. There is no way around it.
➡ You must move in order to help your body become more sensitive to insulin so that the amount your own body is producing will work.
➡ Even if you’re taking diabetes medications, you must still engage in some form of physical activity regularly (and that does not mean every day.).
*See our articles under the category “Fit For Life.”
And, you must learn the difference between eating for your health and not just for pleasure. There are multiple ways to do both without hurting yourself.
*See articles under the category “Nutrition.”
➡ Medications do not replace lifestyle and diet choices.
Michael’s wife and family wish they’d known this.
When the ambulance came, paramedics explained that Michael was in a diabetic coma. Tests showed his blood sugar level was 3 times higher than his normal.
Just four hours after he was admitted to the hospital, he was dead.
Doctors explained afterward that not only had Michael’s diabetes caused the heart attack, but it had damaged his blood vessels so badly, they were unable to save him.
Type 2 diabetes can, with the right diet and exercise regime, be controlled and even, in some cases, be completely reversed.
Parting words from Michael’s widow, Joanne:
“Hopefully, Michael’s legacy will be to stop other people from dying needlessly.”