Diabetes is notorious for causing a wide variety of other diseases and complications in the body. When blood sugar levels are poorly controlled and for a prolonged time, certain parts of the body exhibit an alteration or reduction in normal function, such as dental diseases, neuropathies, retinopathies, kidney problems, and life-threatening heart disease.
According to a new study from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, diabetic patients, regardless of the current state of the disease or their cholesterol levels, are six times more likely to develop heart failure in their lifetime. In fact, the most common cause of mortality among diabetics is cardiovascular disease. This research was published last month in Circulation.
The study utilized a test that detects levels of a protein called troponin, which is commonly found in the blood from damaged cardiac cells. Out of 9,000 participants, 50% had traces of troponin circulating in their bloodstream. This suggests diabetics may be accumulating covert cardiac damage from excess blood sugar, which in the long run, could result in a serious heart complication.
The study’s lead author, Elizabeth Selvin, Ph.D., MPH, who is also an associate professor of epidemiology at John Hopkins, said that this finding could be used as a parameter to detect early, chronic cardiovascular damage. She also adds that in light of this study, physicians may want to reconsider prescribing a diabetic a statin medication, indicated for lowering cholesterol, as their risk for heart disease may not be linked to cholesterol levels at all. Selvin and her team are looking at diabetic micro- and macrovascular damage as the culprit, and they recommend more in depth research be conducted to firmly establish the link between these two serious diseases.
In other news on diabetes, researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine have discovered a hormone found in mice that has the potential to be a cure. Betatrophin allows the pancreas to create “beta” cells which are absent or inactive in diabetics.