The molecule responsible for heart disease in diabetics has been identified by University of Otago researchers recently, which greatly improves chances of survival.
Associate Professor Rajesh Katare, of the Department of Physiology, says diabetes is an epidemic in New Zealand with more than 110,000 people diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, while 100,000 remain undiagnosed. The leading cause of death in diabetics is cardiovascular disease.
"Cardiologists have, until now, not been able to diagnose diabetic heart disease before it has developed,’’ Associate Professor Katare says.
This discovery has shown that, by monitoring the level of microRNA-34a in diabetic individuals, doctors can help identify those who are at risk of developing heart disease.
"This will allow GPs to either prescribe lifestyle modification, or closely monitor those individuals who show changes. Importantly, this can be done without the need for sophisticated equipment.’’
Another key finding of the study was, for the first time, increased microRNA-34a was identified in stem cells isolated from diabetic heart tissue.