Diabetes Mellitus and Cardiac Function

Mol Cell Biochem. 1998 Mar;180(1-2):59-64.


Cardiovascular complications are the most common causes of morbidity and mortality in diabetic patients. Coronary atherosclerosis is enhanced in diabetics, whereas myocardial infarction represents 20% of deaths of diabetic subjects. Furthermore, re-infarction and heart failure are more common in the diabetics. Diabetic cardiomyopathy is characterized by an early diastolic dysfunction and a later systolic one, with intracellular retention of calcium and sodium and loss of potassium. In addition, diabetes mellitus accelerates the development of left ventricular hypertrophy in hypertensive patients and increases cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. Treating the cardiovascular problems in diabetics must be undertaken with caution. Special consideration must be given with respect to the ionic and metabolic changes associated with diabetes. For example, although ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers are suitable agents, potassium channel openers cause myocardial preconditioning and decrease the infarct size in animal models, but they inhibit the insulin release after glucose administration in healthy subjects. Furthermore, potassium channel blockers abolish myocardial preconditioning and increase infarct size in animal models, but they protect the heart from the fatal arrhythmias induced by ischemia and reperfusion which may be important in diabetes. For example, diabetic peripheral neuropathy usually presents with silent ischemia and infarction. Mechanistically, parasympathetic cardiac nerve dysfunction, expressed as increased resting heart rate and decreased respiratory variation in heart rate, is more frequent than the sympathetic cardiac nerve dysfunction expressed as a decrease in the heart rate rise during standing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans