The diabetic cardiomyopathy

Acta Diabetol. 2011 Sep;48(3):173-81. doi: 10.1007/s00592-010-0180-x. Epub 2010 Mar 3.


Diabetic cardiomyopathy has been defined as "a distinct entity characterized by the presence of abnormal myocardial performance or structure in the absence of epicardial coronary artery disease, hypertension, and significant valvular disease". The diagnosis stems from the detection of myocardial abnormalities and the exclusion of other contributory causes of cardiomyopathy. It rests on non-invasive imaging techniques which can demonstrate myocardial dysfunction across the spectra of clinical presentation. The presence of diabetes is associated with an increased risk of developing heart failure, and the 75% of patients with unexplained idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy were found to be diabetic. Diabetic patients with microvascular complications show the strongest association between diabetes and cardiomyopathy, an association that parallels the duration and severity of hyperglycemia. Metabolic abnormalities (that is hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperlipemia) can lead to the cellular alterations characterizing diabetic cardiomyopathy (that is myocardial fibrosis and/or myocardial hypertrophy) directly or indirectly (that is by means of renin-angiotensin system activation, cardiac autonomic neuropathy, alterations in calcium homeostasis). Moreover, metabolic abnormalities represent, on a clinical ground, the main therapeutic target in the patients with diabetes since the diagnosis of diabetes is made. Since diabetic cardiomyopathy is highly prevalent in the asymptomatic type 2 diabetic patients, screening for its presence at the earliest stage of development can lead to prevent the progression to chronic heart failure. The most sensitive test is standard echocardiogram, while a less expensive pre-screening method is the detection of microalbuminuria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular System / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Cardiomyopathies / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Cardiomyopathies / etiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans