Why does diabetes mellitus increase the risk of cardiovascular disease?

Acta Med Indones. Jan-Mar 2006;38(1):33-41.


The main etiology for mortality and a great percentage of morbidity in patients with diabetes mellitus is atherosclerosis. The pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in diabetes is multifactorial and can be affected by metabolic and other factors. A hypothesis for the initial lesion of atherosclerosis is endothelial dysfunction, defined pragmatically as changes in the concentration of the chemical messengers produced by the endothelial cell and/or by blunting of the nitric oxide-dependent vasodilatory response to acetylcholine or hyperemia. Endothelial dysfunction has been documented in patients with diabetes and in individuals with insulin resistance or at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The way endothelial function altered in diabetic patients is not yet fully understood, but the loss of normal endothelial function could be involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic angiopathy, as endothelial dysfunction is associated with diabetic microangiopathy and macroangiopathy. Factors associated with endothelial dysfunction in diabetes include activation of protein kinase C, overexpression of growth factors and/or cytokines, and oxidative stress. Changes in endothelium function may lead to the coronary artery circulation being unable to cope with the increased metabolism of myocardial muscle independently of a reduced coronary artery diameter. Finally, recent reports indicate that an improved metabolic control in diabetic patients, whatever the treatment used, is associated with near normalization or restoration of normal endothelial function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / blood
  • Angiotensin II / physiology
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Comorbidity
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / physiopathology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Fibrinolysis
  • Hemostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Amyloid
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Angiotensin II
  • Nitric Oxide