How Diabetes Dramatically Increases Risk For Cardiovascular Disease

Nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes. The most life-threatening consequences of diabetes are heart diseases and stroke, which strike people with diabetes twice as often as people without the disease.

Researcher (Zheng-Gen Jin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Medicine and the Cardiovascular Research Institute) at the University of Rochester Medical Center has won the 2006 Thomas R. Lee Career Development Award from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), which includes an $842,400 grant to study how diabetes dramatically increases risk for cardiovascular disease.

More than 65 percent of deaths in diabetes patients are attributed to heart and vascular disease. Thus, researchers are seeking urgency to understand why people with diabetes are at greater risk. Dr. Jin won the award for his study, titled Molecular Basis for Diabetes-associated endothelial dysfunction, which focuses on how high blood sugar (blood glucose) in diabetes patients contributes to narrowed blood vessels, creating risk for heart attack and stroke.

Diabetes mellitus is a long-term disease where patients lose, or see reduced, their ability to effectively process sugar consumed as food. They develop high blood sugar because the body does not produce (type 1 diabetes) or produces too little (type 2 diabetes) insulin, the enzyme that takes sugar from blood and carries it into the cells where it can be used to produce energy. Diabetes can change the chemical makeup of substances found in the blood, which can cause blood vessels to narrow or to clog completely. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and diabetes seems to speed it up.

Jin’s lab is focused on the role of oxidative stress in the development of atherosclerosis in patients with Type 2 diabetes. High blood glucose can stimulate the production of highly reactive molecules called free radicals from cells in blood and in blood vessel walls.

High blood glucose in patients with diabetes impairs the performance of NO synthases (NOS), the enzymes that generate NO in response to blood flow, according to theory. Jin hopes to soon understand the molecular mechanisms behind this process on the way to creating new drugs that release more nitric oxide when needed to prevent cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes.

Source : News Medical

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