Patients with diabetes are at very high risk of hospitalization and death from heart failure. Increased prevalence of coronary heart disease, hypertension, autonomic neuropathy, and kidney failure all play a role in this increased risk. However, cardiac metabolic abnormalities are now recognized to play a role in this increased risk. Increased reliance on fatty acids to produce energy might predispose the diabetic heart to oxidative stress and ischemic damage. Intramyocellular accumulation of toxic lipid metabolites leads to a number of cellular abnormalities that might also contribute to cardiac remodelling and cardiac dysfunction. However, fatty acid availability from circulation and from intracellular lipid droplets to fuel the heart is critical to maintain its function. Fatty acids delivery to the heart is very complex and includes plasma nonesterified fatty acid flux as well as triglyceride-rich lipoprotein-mediated transport. Although many studies have shown a cross-sectional association between enhanced fatty acid delivery to the heart and reduction in left ventricular function in subjects with prediabetes and diabetes, these mechanisms change very rapidly during type 2 diabetes treatment. The present review focuses on the role of fatty acids in cardiac function, with particular emphasis on the possible role of early abnormalities of dietary fatty acid metabolism in the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy.
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