Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes: causes and cures

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Diabetes: getting to the heart of the matter

Gary D. Lopaschuk, PhDGary D. Lopaschuk, PhD
Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

 

  • The prevalence of diabetes worldwide has reached epidemic proportions, with the number of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients now exceeding 400 million.1 This is a major concern, as T2DM patients are at a much higher risk of developing myocardial ischemia and heart failure than nondiabetic individuals.2 As a result, cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death of T2DM patients.2 Although initially considered a “vascular disease” with its associated accelerated atherosclerosis, it is now evident that diabetes also directly affects cardiac cellular mechanisms that can contribute to the incidence and severity of heart failure and ischemic heart disease. This creates both problems and opportunities when treating the diabetic patient with cardiovascular disease. The main problem is that the physician must not only treat the heart disease, but also control the diabetes. There is opportunity arising from understanding how diabetes directly affects the cellular mechanisms contributing to heart disease, as this has the potential to reveal new targets and approaches in treating cardiovascular disease in the diabetic. The articles in this issue of Heart and Metabolism address the important problem of cardiovascular disease in the diabetic while addressing both the causes and potential cures for cardiovascular disease in the T2DM patient.
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