High blood sugar, high insulin cause fatty deposits in hearts of diabetes patients

High blood sugar together with high insulin levels cause fatty deposits in the cells of the heart muscle, according to a new study published in the journal Diabetes.

Until now, scientists believed that an influx of fats in the diet resulted in these fatty deposits.

Researchers at Medical University of Vienna in Austria gave 18 healthy women and men a large amount of grape sugar intravenously. Within six hours, researchers could see visible fatty deposits in the heart.

The grape sugar triggers a release of insulin that overexerts the heart's metabolism and leads to these deposits, thus proving that fatty deposits can occur without the direct influx of fats.

The researchers were able to view this chain reaction in the beating heart as it works using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy.

“Our data show that the foundation for damage can be laid early on, especially in patients with high blood sugar and hyperinsulinemia—an elevated insulin level—during prediabetes and early diabetes,” said Michael Krebs, the study's director.

“The first diagnosis usually occurs by accident and on average five years too late,” said Krebs.

Diabetes epidemic
Of the 25.8 million Americans who have diabetes, about 7 million don't know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC).

About 79 million Americans, of 35 percent of the adult population, have prediabetes. That's when blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

The number of American adults with diabetes could double or triple by 2050 if current trends continue, according to the CDC. One-fifth to one-third of all adults could have diabetes, with all the increase attributed to type 2 diabetes.

Currently, an estimated 8.3 percent of the US population has diabetes. About 95 percent of those cases are type 2.

Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include advanced age over 45 years, lack of physical exercise, family history, a personal history of gestational diabetes, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Regular physical activity and proper nutrition can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The CDC recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. They also recommend losing five to seven percent of their body weight through dietary changes.

Sources: Medical University of Vienna, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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