KUALA LUMPUR — April 19, 2019: A cardiologist has estimated that 30 per cent of diabetics experience heart failure, thus increasing the risk of premature death.
The risk of heart failure among diabetics is three to eight times more than people with no diabetes due to high sugar level in the blood, being overweight, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and lack of exercise.
Even more unfortunate is having heart failure, usually only realised by patientd five to 15 years after being diagnosed with diabetes, said Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) consultant cardiologist, Associate Professor Dr. Sazzli Shahlan Kasim after a panel discussion at the 11th Diabetes Complications Conference & Grand Round organised by the National Diabetes Institute (Nadi) here today.
Heart failure involves two categories — heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) and that with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF)).
For most cases of diabetes, HFrEF is not caused by blocked arteries as always experienced by patients with ordinary heart failure but by high sugar level in the blood to the extent of resulting in HFpEF, making the patient weak.
With high level of sugar in the blood and advanced glycation end products or AGEs (which are proteins or lipids that become glycated due to exposure to sugars), the heart will start to harden if the patient walks fast, climbs stairs, has stress or fever.
For some cases, blood sugar level that is high will attack the nerves around the heart, causing the nerves to be dysfunctional but when the heart starts to deteriorate, the patient does not feel it.
To avoid heart failure, Sazzli advises patients to do periodic monitoring and to control the risk factors by practising a healthy lifestyle and having a balanced diet.
He also stressed the importance of consuming low-calorie food and more fibre to lessen chemical reaction, thus reducing the risk of diabetes and heart failure.
Nadi permanent member, Datuk Anuar Zaini Md. Zain, suggested that the government focuses on reducing the glycemic index and carbohydrates in the food industry to lessen the risk of diabetes. He also urged the government to control the market price of food with low glycemic index and carbohydrates. — Bernama