Diabetes and Heart Disease

Diabetes and The Risk of Heart Failure

Can Diabetes Lead to Heart problems?

One of the possibly fatal complications that can be caused by Type 2 Diabetes is diabetic heart disease. Patients with diabetes are much more predisposed to heart disease than other individuals. They have additional causes that can lead to heart disease, they can get it at younger ages, in more severe forms, and their systems are already weakened by diabetes to effectively prevent or curb heart issues. Diabetics can experience such heart diseases as diabetic cardiomyopathy, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.

Causes of heart disease in diabetic patients

One of the main reasons for heart disease in type 2 diabetes patients is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance tends to cause blood clotting, which over time can lead to blocked coronary arteries. This poses a serious risk of a heart attack and can be lethal.

Metabolic syndrome is another risk factor for heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is very common for diabetes sufferers and can be described as a combination of several or all of the following: high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol (HDL) in your system; high blood pressure, high blood sugar; increased waistline and some others.

High blood pressure and high sugar levels may lead to atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the arteries) in diabetic patients, which is another risk factor for heart disease.

The number and graveness of risk factors and their consequences in the form of heart disease, of course, is a major source of concern both for a diabetic patient and their family.

However, you can be proactive and take measures to maintain and strengthen your health and prevent any possible heart complications. A change in lifestyle, diet, and level of activity may help better control diabetes and its complications. Staying on top of prescribed medications can be also vitally important.


Metformin will often be the drug of choice for the pre-treatment and the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes with the purpose of controlling the disease itself and its possible complications. The journal Circulation and Heart Failure recently published an article about how Metformin is able to also prevent death from heart disease caused by diabetes.

A study conducted at Baylor College of Medicine by researchers and Michael E. De Bakey of VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas, involved 6,185 Type 2 Diabetes patients who had heart failure. Twenty-five percent of these patients were treated with Metformin. The research concluded with the following results:

  • After a two-year period, 15.8% or 246 patients who were treated with Metformin died.
  • After a two-year period, 25.5% or 1177 patients who were not treated with Metformin died.

Both of the groups that were part of the research had the same total rate of hospitalization due to heart failure as well as the rate of hospitalization. However, diabetic patients with heart failures that have undergone Metformin treatment had a higher chance of survival. The study concluded with the need for more related studies in order to discover effective therapies for patients that are diagnosed with both Type 2 Diabetes and heart failure.

Metformin belongs to a family of drugs known as biguanides (the blood sugar controlling drugs). It is one of the insulin-sensitizing drugs, that helps prevent the fluctuation of glucose between meals allowing effective weight loss. It also limits the total amount of insulin that comes from the pancreas instead of increasing it and controls the amount of glucose coming from the small intestines and liver that enters the blood flow.

Type 2 Diabetes is known to promote insulin resistance. Biguanides like Metformin attack the disease at the root. In general, Metformin is a safe medication. However, it has a range of side effects. For example, there are rare instances where patients who take the drug develop lactic acidosis, which is a serious condition. Ten to Thirty percent of Metformin users report that they experience gastrointestinal side effects, which subside over time. If you experience a similar side effect that does stay long, you can consult your doctor for the administration of a lower dose. Metformin is also known as Glucophage, Glumetza, or Fortamet in the market. These are brand names of Metformin with slightly different formulations, and they tend to cause fewer side effects.

Metformin should be taken regularly to be able to achieve its positive effects. However, there are some instances where its use should be discontinued temporarily. If you are suffering from severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting, in need of less than normal fluid intake, you should alert your doctor immediately. If you are undergoing X-ray procedures, you should also let your doctor know or ask beforehand if using Metformin when undergoing an X-ray scan is advisable.

Metformin is a popular choice to control diabetes and its possible complication in the form of heart disease as it is generically available and is cheaper than most drugs available. However, don’t forget to also pay attention to your lifestyle, your exercise regime, nutritional supplementation, and diet. All of these factors will greatly improve your chances to live healthier and happier!

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