and Medicine for Seniors
Diabetes Patients Have Heart Risk Other Than
Cholesterol or Atherosclerosis
'It looks like diabetes may be slowly killing heart
muscle in ways we had not thought of before.'
10, 2014 – Diabetes patients are at increased risk of heart failure and
cardiac death unrelated to the common culprits of cholesterol and
atherosclerosis, says a new study. People with diabetes who appear
otherwise healthy may have a six-fold higher risk of developing heart
failure regardless of their cholesterol levels, according to this
research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In nearly 50 percent of people with diabetes in
their study, researchers employing an ultra-sensitive test were able to
identify minute levels of a protein released into the blood when heart
cells die. This finding suggests that people with diabetes may be
suffering undetectable – but potentially dangerous – heart muscle damage
possibly caused by their elevated blood sugar levels.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of
death among those with diabetes, and much of that has been blamed on
atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
12.2 million, or 23.1 percent, of U.S. senior citizens age 60
"It puts what we know about heart damage in
diabetes on its head," says study leader Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH, an
associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health.
"It looks like diabetes may be slowly killing heart
muscle in ways we had not thought of before."
Diabetes Patients Cope with Positive Outlook, Social Support
Almost one out of every four senior citizens age 60 and over
has diabetes, more than half of all U.S. adults with diabetes are seniors
Getting Old is Challenge Enough!
Editor's Note: Getting old is
challenge enough but almost one in four senior citizens in the U.S. also
has to cope with the challenges of Type 2 diabetes. Learn more about
diabetes below - insert in news report.
Sept.9, 2014 - A positive outlook and support from people
around them help patients with diabetes cope with psychosocial challenges of the
disease, according to an international study that included researchers from
Penn State College of
Medicine. A better understanding of the emotional, psychological and
social challenges people with diabetes face could improve health outcomes.
Read the latest
Health & Medicine
She says a test for even slightly elevated levels
of troponin, the protein released into the blood only when heart cells
die, could someday be used to screen for very early chronic heart
Because of the link between cardiovascular disease
and diabetes, people with newly diagnosed diabetes are typically
prescribed a statin, one of a hugely popular class of
cholesterol-lowering drugs. This study, Selvin says, suggests that there
may be people with diabetes whose heart risk may have nothing to do with
"Statin treatment may not be sufficient to prevent
damage to the heart in people with diabetes," she says. "Even though
there may be no symptoms yet, our research suggests there is
microvascular damage being done to the heart which is leading to heart
failure and even death."
When someone comes to a hospital's emergency room
with chest pains, a standard blood test checks for troponin leaking from
heart cells into the blood. Elevated troponin levels suggest a heart
The assay Selvin and her colleagues used to look
for troponin is 10 times more sensitive and picks up very low levels of
the protein, identifying previously undetected subclinical chronic
damage to the heart.
The ultra-sensitive test is not currently available
commercially in the United States.
For the study, the researchers measured troponin
concentrations using the highly sensitive assay in blood samples from
more than 9,000 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities
Study (ARIC) at two time points, six years apart. Those with diabetes
were two and a half times more likely to have elevated troponin levels
than those without.
Then the researchers looked at 14 years of
follow-up data from ARIC. Diabetics with elevated troponin were six
times more likely to develop heart failure and four times more likely to
have a heart attack. Those with pre-diabetes, a condition associated
with a high risk of progressing to diabetes, were also at increased
More research is needed, Selvin says, to determine
the exact mechanism for how diabetes may be causing the heart damage.
But the findings underscore yet another reason to do what it takes to
prevent diabetes, she says.
The research was reported last month in the journal
Other authors included Mariana Lazo, Yuan Chen, Lu
Shen, Jonathan Rubin, John W. McEvoy, Ron C. Hoogeveen, A. Richey
Sharrett, Christie M. Ballantyne and Josef Coresh.
research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of
Health's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases (R01 DK089174). ARIC is supported by contracts with the NIH's
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.