Getting to the heart of the matter

Heart disease is one of the major complications of diabetes. It can take many forms that affect different parts of the heart.

One type of heart disease, left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), involves the enlargement and thickening of the wall of the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle. LVH is more common in people with type 2 diabetes and can lead to heart failure.

University of Melbourne researcher Dr Sheila Patel suspects that genetics may play a role and that some people could be predisposed to developing LVH. With funding from the Diabetes Australia Research Trust she is investigating this area further.

“I’m interested in whether or not there are particular genes that make some people more likely to develop LVH,” Dr Patel said.

“Specifically, our research has found that a particular genetic variant in the Kruppel-like factor 15 (KLF-15) gene is associated with LVH in patients with type 2 diabetes and these patients were more likely to be hospitalised with heart failure.’

“People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing heart failure, so early identification by using a simple genetic test may help optimise earlier treatment in people at higher risk and prevent the development of heart failure.”

Dr Patel says more research needs to be done to understand how the genotype is associated with LVH, with a view to developing preventative treatment.

Find out how you can support research like Dr Patel’s here.