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Diabetic Eye Problem Linked to Heart Failure
Date:4/14/2008

Retinopathy more than doubled the risk of heart problems, study found

MONDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of vision loss in the United States, is also a warning sign of heart failure, a new study says.

The study followed more than 1,000 middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes for nine years and found that those with retinopathy at the start had more than a 2.5-fold higher risk of developing heart failure than those without retinopathy.

The finding was published in the April 22 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"They have made the point that patients with diabetic retinopathy need to be more vigilant in looking for the development of heart failure," said Dr. Hector O. Ventura, director of the cardiology residency program at the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, and co-author of an accompanying editorial in the journal.

The physical connection between retinopathy -- which is caused by leakage and/or overgrowth of tiny blood vessels in the eye -- and heart failure -- which is the progressive loss of the ability to pump blood -- is not clear, Ventura said. But the new study strengthens evidence for such a link, he said.

A relationship between diabetic retinopathy and an increased risk of heart failure was first described two decades ago in the long-running Framingham Heart Study, which follows residents of a Massachusetts city, the journal report noted.

A number of later studies found a similar relationship. The research team behind the new study, an international group with members in Australia, Singapore and the United States, described the retinopathy-heart failure association in detail two years ago in a study of people with diabetes in four communities.

The new study singled out retinopathy as a heart risk factor by selecting participants who were free of kidney disease and coronary heart disease, tw
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