The high-fat “diet” that diabetic heart muscle consumes helps make cardiovascular disease the most common killer of diabetic patients.
Sixty-five percent of people with diabetes die from heart attack or stroke. When the researchers investigated fuel consumption in heart muscle, they found that heart muscle of type 1 diabetic patients relies heavily on fat and very little on sugar for its energy needs.
Diabetic patients often have larger infarctions and suffer more heart failure and sudden death when the heart experiences an ischemic (low-oxygen) event. The cells of diabetic hearts not only absorbed more fat, they also burned a higher percentage of the fats they took in.
If the increased blood-fat levels are confirmed to be responsible for the dysfunctional metabolism of diabetic heart muscle, reducing fat levels may become an important way to decrease illness and death from cardiovascular disease in diabetics.