Diabetes Is an Independent Risk For Heart Failure

The medical establishment has long known that diabetes tends to lead to heart problems later in life. Researchers in a new study, though, say they have now determined that diabetes is more than a contributing factor to heart failure but, in fact, as an independent risk factor for developing the condition.

In this study, the researchers evaluated the long-term association between diabetes and heart failure. The study involved both preserved ejection fraction—which is a measurement of the percentage of blood that leaves the heart in a contraction—as well as reduced ejection fraction. The researchers also analyzed mortality in a community population (while controlling for variables like coronary heart disease, diastolic function, and hypertension). 

Out of the initial group of 2,042 residents (in Olmsted County, US) 116 study participants with diabetes, matched at a rate of 1-to-2, for age, sex, hypertension, diastolic function, and coronary artery disease against 232 participants without diabetes.  In the ten years following the initial intake, 21 percent of the diabetic participants developed heart failure (independent of all other causes). 

According to HOD and Director of Internal Medicine at Narayana Superspecialty Hospital in Gurugram, India, Satish Koul, “Diabetes is also a major risk factor for athersclerosis and this eventually leads to blockage of coronary arteries. This leads to heart attack or myocardial infarction.”

By comparison, only 12 percent of patients without diabetes developed heart failure over the same ten-year follow-up period. It may be important to note that cardiac death, heart attack, and stroke were not found to be statistically different between the two groups.  

Koul goes on to say, “Due to myocardial infarction, the heart muscle becomes weak and eventually heart fails as a pump leading to congestive heart failure.”

At the end of the day, study co-author Horng Chen, of the Mayo Clinic concludes, “The key takeaway is that diabetes mellitus alone is an independent risk factor for the development of heart failure. Our hope is that this study provides a strong foundation for further investigations into diabetes and heart failure. There is still much to learn and study in terms of this association and how to best diagnose and treat this condition.”

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