Type 2 diabetes quickly takes a toll on the heart

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Type 2 diabetes has negative effect on adolescent hearts
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When type 2 diabetes develops, new research suggests heart function begins to decline rapidly. Researchers from the Endocrine Society found diabetes takes a toll on heart function from stiffening of the muscles in the heart that pump blood throughout the body.

Exercise tests show impaired heart function in diabetic adolescents

The researchers looked at heart function with exercise in study participant’s age 12 to 20 in New Zealand. They compared teens that were overweight or obese; those type 2 diabetes and normal weight non diabetic adolescents.

Bicycle tests and MRI images of the heart and femoral arteries that supply blood to the lower extremities at rest were performed at rest, during and after exercise.

Compared to the other two groups, teens with type 2 diabetes had lower filling of the heart chambers during exercise, meaning less blood needed for energy and oxygen uptake reaches the lungs and blood vessels.

Cardiac output lower in teens with type 2 diabetes

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Cardiac output, the amount of blood pumped throughout the body with each contraction was normal, but lower in diabetic teens during exercise.

Teresa Pinto, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Dalhousie University IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada said, “Past studies in adults with Type 2 diabetes show that their heart and blood vessels’ ability to adapt to exercise may be impaired. Our study shows that these changes in heart function may begin to happen very early after Type 2 diabetes occurs.”

Pinto explains even though teens with type 2 diabetes have strong hearts, the disease limits the heart’s ability to expand and stretch, known as diastolic dysfunction. Another findings was lower blood flow through the femoral arteries in the type 2 diabetes group.

Type 2 diabetes has an effect on the heart and blood vessels, and is seen as early as adolescence. The finding highlights the importance of diabetes prevention and control of the disease for those already suffering from the disease.

The study authors say it’s possible the toll diabetes takes on the heart could be reversible with exercise, but more studies should be performed to determine whether early diastolic dysfunction from heart disease can be curbed.

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