How One Man with Diabetes Had 15 Angioplasties for Heart Disease

Mike has diabetes but was unaware it increased his risk of heart disease.
Having diabetes is a bit like throwing gasoline on the fire, in terms of heart risk. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die of heart disease than people who do not have diabetes. In fact, at least 65% of people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

But you may not have heard the news, particularly if you were diagnosed many years ago.

Mike Boscia of San Diego is a former helicopter assembler who has had 15 artery-clearing angioplasties, 15 stents implanted to prop open clogged arteries, and a quintuple bypass. Although he can't walk very far on his own, he tools around on a motorized scooter. Now 52, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes roughly 15 years ago. At the time, though, no one warned him about the risk of heart disease.

"I don't ever remember talking about that when I was first diagnosed," says Boscia, who is also being treated for high blood pressure and cholesterol.

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Most people with diabetes unaware of heart risk
If you didn't know the strong link between heart disease and diabetes, you're not alone.

Sixty-eight percent of people with diabetes don't consider heart disease to be a serious complication, according to a study published in 2002 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. They are much more likely to be aware of complications such as blindness (65%) and amputation (36%) than heart disease (17%), heart attack (14%), and stroke (5%).

The knowledge gap is particularly acute among certain ethnic groups. Hispanic and Latino Americans, for example, are more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, yet only one in four Hispanic/Latinos with diabetes know they are at risk for heart disease, says the National Diabetes Education Program.

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Last Updated: April 14, 2008

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