Types 2 Diabetes – Diabetes and the Aorta

The aorta is the largest artery in the body, originating in the left ventricle, a chamber of the heart, and carrying oxygen-rich blood toward the rest of the body. A valve in the aorta shuts to keep blood from falling back into the heart between beats. When the valve has difficulty opening to allow blood to flow from the heart to the aorta, it is called aortic stenosis.

Aortic stenosis occurs when the heart’s aortic valve becomes narrowed. Narrowing then prevents the aortic valve from fully opening and this leads to the heart struggling to provide oxygenated blood onward to the rest of the body. This causes the blood in the heart to then push against the partially closed valve, which can cause high blood pressure and heart failure.

According to investigators at the Institute of Cardiology, Jagiellonian University Medical College in Kracow, Poland, Type 2 diabetes puts patients at risk for aortic stenosis. They compared molecules found on the aortic valves of patients with and without Type 2 diabetes and reported the results of their work in the journal Inflammation in September 2012…

    20 patients with aortic stenosis and full-blown Type 2 diabetes, and
    40 patients without diabetes but scheduled for valve replacement

were included in the study.

The patients with Type 2 diabetes had high levels of blood C-reactive protein, a molecule associated with inflammation, and elevated tissue factor on their heart valves. Tissue factor is associated with aortic valve hardening. The researchers concluded that Type 2 diabetes was associated with increased inflammation of the aortic valves, which could cause aortic valve stenosis.

Signs and symptoms of aortic stenosis include:

    chest pain or tightness,
    fainting or feeling faint, especially with activity,
    shortness of breath,
    racing of your heart, and
    certain kinds of heart murmur.

It is diagnosed by a technique called cardiac catheterization. Tubes are placed into the arteries in the arms or legs and pushed through the aortic valve and on into the left ventricle of the heart. Pressure is measured in the aorta and in the heart, and the difference in pressure tells doctors whether stenosis is actually present.

Other tests include ultrasound, which gives a picture of the heart and its valves, and electrocardiograms, or EKG’s, which can show whether the left ventricle has become enlarged due to the struggle to push blood through a partially closed valve.

Treatment is the actual replacement of the defective valve with an artificial valve surgically.

Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. By making easy changes to your daily routine, its possible to protect your heart, kidneys, eyes and limbs from the damage often caused by diabetes, and eliminate some of the complications you may already experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *