People with diabetes are almost 50 per cent more likely to have a heart attack than those who do not have the condition, new research has shown.
Almost 14,500 diabetics suffered a heart attack in England and Wales between 2010 and 2011 – 4,700 more cases than expected.
The National Diabetes Audit also revealed sufferers are at greater risk of heart failure and other potentially fatal conditions including angina and strokes.
The report – which shows the extent to which people with diabetes are dying earlier and developing more health problems than the rest of the population – suggests diabetics are 48 per cent more likely to have a heart attack, and 65 per cent more likely to have heart failure.
Between 2010 and 2011, 17,900 diabetics suffered from a stroke, 9,800 needed a kidney transplant or dialysis and 1,700 needed a ‘major amputation’, figures indicate.
Diabetics were also at a higher risk of death than people without the condition, according to the report.
The excess risk is much higher among people with rarer Type 1 diabetes, which accounts for 10 per cent of all cases of the disorder.
People with the more common Type 2 diabetes have a 36 per cent excess risk.
Charity Diabetes UK has urged the NHS to take urgent action to prevent diabetes-related heart disease on the back of the findings.
Chief executive Barbara Young said: ‘The finding that people with diabetes are almost 50 per cent more likely to have a heart attack is shocking and this is one of the main reasons many thousands of people with the condition are dying before their time.
‘It is a tragedy that a large proportion of these thousands of extra heart attacks could have been prevented simply through better education, treatment and care.
‘We hope this report spurs the NHS into action to improve the current situation where fewer than half of people with diabetes meet the recommended cholesterol levels and a significant minority are not even having it measured.
‘We want everyone with diabetes to get their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose checked once a year, and for this to be the start of a process of supporting the person to achieve healthy levels of these,’ she said.
‘Unless this happens, people with diabetes will continue to be at much greater risk of heart attacks.’
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said the figures showed the biggest problem with diabetes was the condition’s ‘devastating’ effect on the heart and circulation.
He said it was necessary to tackle increasing levels of obesity in British society in order to help prevent diabetes from occurring in the first place.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘People with diabetes should be able to expect excellent care from the NHS and they will get it more consistently in future.
‘I know there has been progress, but there is still unacceptable variation and we are determined to put that right.
‘We want to make sure that people living with diabetes are given the care and support they need, and this audit will help us do this,’ he added.
In the UK, there are 3.7 million people with diabetes, including an estimated 850,000 people who have Type 2 diabetes but do not know it.