Diabetic Retinopathy May Predict Heart Failure

Research has shown that diabetic retinopathy may predict an increase risk of heart failure.

People with diabetes commonly suffer from an eye condition known as retinopathy.  In people suffering with retinopathy blood vessels in the eye may either swell and laek, or abnormal blood vessels may grow on the retina causing damage to the light sensitive area of the eye.

Retinopathy is recognized as one of the leading causes of blindness.  New research has now shown that retinopathy more than doubles the risk associated with developing heart disease.

Dr. Tien Y. Wong from the University of Melbourne in Autralia (and his colleagues) reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that based on data analyzed data from 1,021 adults with type 2 diabetes who were without heart or kidney disease when the study began, 10.1% developed heart failure during the 9 year follow-up.  Of those studied, nearly 13 percent of the subjects did, however, have diabetic retinopathy at the beginning of the study.

Overall, 21.6 percent of patients with retinopathy developed heart failure compared with just 8.5 percent of those without retinopathy. After accounting for other factors that may have influenced the association, diabetic retinopathy increased the risk of heart failure by 2.2-fold.

Dr. Wong and his colleagues reported these findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

These findings could have important implications for clinicians because the detection of  retinopathy might now warrant comprehensive cardiac examinations throughout the life of the patient.

“Current guidelines already identify the need for routine screening for retinopathy in the diabetic patient. In addition to appropriate vision care,” they suggest that “the detection of retinopathy might now also warrant a fuller cardiac evaluation and closer follow-up to prevent the development of heart failure.”

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, April 22, 2008.