Scientists have identified a biological pathway—activated by abnormally high blood sugar levels—that causes irregular heartbeats.This condition is known as cardiac arrhythmia and is linked with heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
Reported online in the journal Nature, the discovery helps explain why diabetes is a significant independent risk factor for heart disease. “The novel molecular understanding we have uncovered paves the way for new therapeutic strategies that protect the heart health of patients with diabetes,” said Donald Bers, chair of the pharmacology department at University of California, Davis and senior author of the study.
While heart disease is common in the general population, the risk is up to four times greater for diabetics, according to the National Institutes of Health. The American Heart Association estimates that at least 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke and has emphasized the need for research focused on understanding this relationship.
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