Diabetes Australia funding important research into heart health

Heart disease is one of the most common and serious complications of diabetes. It refers to a number of heart-related conditions including cardiomyopathy.

This week for Cardiomyopathy Week we are highlighting some of the research Diabetes Australia is funding in this important area.

Cardiomyopathy refers to a condition where the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body. It effects the heart’s ability to relax and refill with blood which is essential to its proper functioning.

Symptoms of cardiomyopathy include breathlessness, tiredness and swelling in the legs and abdomen.

Current heart disease treatments for people with diabetes have a limited effect. That is why Diabetes Australia is helping to fund research into new treatments and therapies to help preserve heart function in people with diabetes.

Dr Mitchel Tate, a Research Officer at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, is currently working on a Diabetes Australia Research Trust-funded project to develop new therapies for treating diabetes-related heart disease.

Dr Tate is investigating the potential use of gene therapy in diabetic cardiomyopathy in order to help preserve heart function. This approach may have a number of advantages including its long-lasting effects and its ability to be targeted at a specific organ, in this case the heart.

“One target of interest is bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7), and despite its name, is an important inhibitor of the TGF-β signalling cascade that induces fibrosis; cardiac fibrosis being a prominent feature of the diabetic heart. Importantly, this approach has shown promise in other diabetic complications including chronic kidney disease and may represent a viable treatment option,” he said

“Currently, though there are medicines available to lower blood pressure or prevent blood clots from forming, in cases of cardiomyopathy the most common recommendation for treatment is a healthy diet and physical activity.”

It is also recommended that people at risk of developing cardiomyopathy make several lifestyle changes designed to manage any conditions that cause or contribute to the disease, such as quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, losing excess weight and avoiding a salt-heavy diet, reducing stress and getting enough rest.

If you are concerned about potential of heart disease you can contact your doctor. For more information visit https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/