Type 2 diabetes is a leading factor in heart failure in later life, new study finds

by mfdfadmin on December 6, 2016

Middle aged people who do not have diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure are less likely to suffer from heart failure in later life, new research has found.

Researchers from the United States point out that type 2 diabetes, obesity (often associated with type 2 diabetes) and hypertension can lead to structural changes in the heart that increase the stiffness of the muscle and reduce its ability to contract forcefully.

Heart-BeatingThese structural and functional changes in the muscle reduce the ability to circulate blood, which can lead to heart failure and compared to people with all three risk factors, adults who had none of these health problems by the age of 45 were 73% less likely to develop heart failure over the rest of their lifetime, the study found.

The study by a team at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, also found that when people reached the age of 55 without any of these three risk factors, they were 83% less likely to develop heart failure than adults who did have these problems.

Of the three risk factors, diabetes had a particularly strong association with spending a shorter period free of heart failure. People without diabetes in middle age lived an average of 8.6 to 10.6 years longer without heart failure than those with the disease.

‘Preventing the onset of diabetes, obesity and hypertension will substantially lower a person’s risk for heart failure and substantially increase the average number of years they will live healthy,’ said senior study author Dr. John Wilkins.

‘The benefits of preventing the onset of the risk factors themselves often far exceeds the benefits experienced through treatment of the risk factors after they’ve developed,’ he added.

The study analysed data on tens of thousands of US men and women and researchers found 53% of them did not have diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity at age 45 while less than 1% did have all three risk factors at that age.

By age 55 about 44% of adults still didn’t have any of the three risk factors for heart failure, and 2.6% had all three. Researchers identified 1,677 cases of heart failure after age 45, and another 2,976 cases after age 55. They followed people through age 95 or death.

People who didn’t have any of the three risk factors at 45 or 55 were significantly less likely to develop heart failure as they aged and this was true of men, women, white and black participants.

Men at age 45 years without any of the three risk factors lived an average of 10.6 years longer free of heart failure than those with all three, while women at age 45 without any of the three risk factors lived an average of 14.9 years longer without heart failure.

One limitation of the study is that people who joined at different points in time might have different generational risks of developing diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or heart failure, the authors noted. Researchers also lacked data on risk factors for heart failure earlier in life, or information on any lifestyle changes some participants might have made to improve their health before middle age.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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