Diabetic Teens Have Heart Problems Too

Type 2 diabetes may affect heart function in teenagers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It is already known that type 2 diabetes can affect adults' hearts. Now, research shows that the disease can also cause heart problems in teenagers.

During exercise, the hearts of teenagers with type 2 diabetes did not fill up as well as the hearts of those who did not have diabetes and were not obese. The heart function on the diabetic teenagers was also not as good as non-diabetics who were overweight or obese.

"Diabetes causes heart problems in teenagers."

According to Teresa Pinto, M.D., from the Dalhousie University IWK Health Centre and the study's lead author, past research has shown that the heart and blood vessels of diabetic adults have a hard time adjusting to exercise. This study, she points out, shows that these changes in heart function can start very soon after someone develops type 2 diabetes.

For their study, Pinto and colleagues looked at the heart and blood vessels of teenagers while they exercised. The study involved 13 teenagers with type 2 diabetes, 27 non-diabetic overweight or obese subjects, and 19 non-diabetic and non-obese subjects. All of the subjects were between 12 and 20 years of age.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers took images of each subject's heart and femoral artery - the blood vessel that brings blood to the leg.

Pinto and colleagues found that the hearts of teenagers with type 2 diabetes did not function as well as the other subjects. The diabetic subjects also had less blood pumped out with each heart beat. However, the amount of blood pumped was still normal.

Pinto says that the study showed that the heart of teenagers with type 2 diabetes pumps strongly but is not filling up with the normal amount of blood. She notes that the study does not show why this happens, only that the heart gets stiffer, holding back its ability to stretch and expand.

As some studies on adults have shown, this problem may be fixed with some exercise training, Pinto says. But more research is needed to see if this is true.

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Review Date: 
June 7, 2011
Last Updated:
June 9, 2011