Heart disease is unfortunately becoming a more common complication of Type 2 Diabetes. This includes the development of cardiomyopathy and heart failure. 

In cardiomyopathy, the heart is not able to pump blood efficiently to vital organs. It can also mean that the heart isn’t able to relax properly and fill with oxygenated blood from the lungs. As a result, fluid can build up and you can get fluid leakage around your lungs and other parts of your body (such as your ankles). 

In the early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may not have any symptoms. Over time though, patients can develop symptoms such as: 

  • shortness of breath 
  • swelling of the legs and ankles 
  • increased tiredness 

Other symptoms can include: 

  • bloating 
  • coughing 
  • dizziness 
  • loss of appetite or nausea 
  • shortness of breath when lying down 

Once cardiomyopathy worsens, it can mean progression to heart failure. This can have a significant impact on daily activities and quality of life and, if severe enough, can be fatal. 

Besides diabetes, there are other risk factors for developing cardiomyopathy. These include a history of: 

  • coronary artery disease 
  • a previous heart attack 
  • high blood pressure 

Other causes include: 

  • older age (especially over 60 years) 
  • family history of cardiomyopathy 
  • other chronic medical illnesses such as HIV, thyroid illnesses 
  • abnormal heart valves 
  • heart rhythm abnormalities 
  • excessive alcohol intake 
  • illicit drug use
  • pregnancy (because your heart is working harder to pump blood around the body) 
  • some cancer treatments (radiation and chemotherapy) which may be toxic to the heart 

Heart failure may be diagnosed or suspected by your doctor if you have symptoms as outlined above. Your doctor will usually conduct a physical examination and may consider ordering further investigations such as: 

  • blood tests (looking for BNP/brain natriuretic peptide in the body, a hormone that increases during heart failure) 
  • echocardiogram (to see how well your heart is working and detect any damage to the heart) 
  • electrocardiogram/ECG to look for any irregular heart rhythms 
  • chest Xray (specifically looking for an enlarged heart or fluid in the lungs) 

In diabetics, there appears to be an increasing prevalence of diabetic cardiomyopathy with no other known causes such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease or cardiac valvular disease.  

If you have been diagnosed or at risk of developing heart failure there are a number of strategies you can take to reduce your risk and improve your quality of life. These include  

  • quitting smoking 
  • reducing your salt intake 
  • reducing your alcohol intake
  • exercising regularly   

It is also important to talk to your doctor about how you can manage your diabetes better and any other risk factors for heart disease you may have such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.  Unfortunately, currently available treatments for patients with heart disease and diabetes have little effect.  

If you have diabetes and believe you may be at risk of developing cardiomyopathy or heart failure, or have been told you have early signs (but no symptoms currently) of these conditions, you may be eligible to enroll in an exciting new study with us.  At present there is no medication currently available to manage this unmet need. Here at AusTrials we are studying a new medication which aims to look at preventing worsening of diabetic cardiomyopathy and progression to heart failure. You may be eligible to take part if you: 

  • are aged over 60 years and have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 
  • OR aged between 40 and 60 years and have had diabetes and/or mild kidney disease for more than 10 years 

The study is being conducted at this location: 

  • Taringa, QLD 

Qualified participants will receive: 

  • Study medications and visits at no cost 
  • Investigations to look at your heart function (echocardiogram) and lung function studies 
  • Compensation for time and travel involved in the study 

For more information regarding this trial please contact us on 07 3278 5255 or email info@austrials.com.au