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Former nurse who had heart attack at 38 highlights diabetes connection

British Heart Foundation research shows number of cardiac problems and strokes expected to soar due to diabetes epidemic 

British Heart Foundation research shows number of cardiac problems and strokes expected to soar due to diabetes epidemic 


Sarah Miles

A former nurse with diabetes has described how she suffered a heart attack when she was just 38 years old.

Her story features alongside research from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) claiming the number of heart attacks and strokes are set to soar over the coming years as the diabetes epidemic sweeping the nation takes its toll.

Sarah Miles said her heart attack and subsequent cardiac arrest meant she was forced to give up her nursing career.

The mother-of-two from Cheddar, Somerset, said she noticed signs of heart problems in the months leading up to her heart attack but was repeatedly told she was 'too young' to have anything wrong with her heart.

Quite a shock

Ms Miles now suffers heart failure and is being considered for a heart transplant.

The 43-year-old says people with diabetes need to be more aware of the connection between diabetes and heart problems and make lifestyle changes if they can.

'(Having a heart attack) was quite a shock in more ways than one because I went into cardiac arrest as well, so I had to have a defibrillator used on me,' she said. 

Ms Miles said she was lucky to be alive, adding: 'Within ten minutes of the paramedics arriving I was in cardiac arrest.

'Luckily I was in the back of an ambulance as it happened.

'Less than one in ten people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.'

Diabetes connection

Ms Miles was diagnosed with type two diabetes in April 2013 and just nine months later she suffered her heart attack and cardiac arrest.

'I'd been going to the doctors quite a bit because I'd been getting symptoms of heart problems,' she said.

'Not chest pain, but pains in my jaw, breathlessness, things like that and I kept being told that I was just obsessed and depressed.'

She said: 'No one (health workers) mentioned a connection (between diabetes and heart problems) until after I'd had a heart attack.

'I asked, "why has this happened?" and they said, "well it could be because of the diabetes but we don't know".

'They didn't even take into account my family history and they basically kept telling me I was too young.'

Rising tide

The BHF predicts a growing number of people with diabetes could trigger a 29% rise in the number of heart attacks and strokes linked to the condition by 2035.

It warned that the rising tide of diabetes will have a significant impact on people suffering ill health related to the condition.

The charity has estimated that 39,000 people living with diabetes will suffer a heart attack in 2035, a rise of 9,000 compared with 2015.

Meanwhile, more than 50,000 people will have a stroke, a rise of 11,000, the charity said.

Cases of angina and heart failure are also expected to soar, it warned.

More research needed

The BHF said that over the next two decades the number of people with diabetes in England is set to increase from four million to five million – partly due to the swelling cases of obesity, which is leading to increasing cases of type 2 diabetes.

The charity has called for more research to understand the links between heart and circulatory problems.

It also said that 'bold action' is needed to tackle obesity and inactivity.

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