Diabetes, myocardial fibrosis, and cardiovascular diseases
Diabetes affects millions of people every year, making them prone to heart diseases and die earlier than people without diabetes. In the next decades, it is expected that 1 in 10 adults will have diabetes, and a significant proportion will develop heart failure, or a condition where the heart cannot pump blood effectively. This makes people tired, breathless, unable to do even the slightest physical activities, and have low quality of life. Understanding why people with diabetes develop heart failure is important if we are to find solutions that can prevent heart failure in the first place. Doing this means we need to research on people before they develop heart failure. A key process involved in heart failure is myocardial fibrosis, or scarring of the heart muscles. Scarred muscles are less able to contract, and thus pump blood more effectively. Currently, these scars are measured best and more practically using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the next 3 years, we will analyze heart MRI data, as well as medical history, blood tests, and physical measures of volunteers in the UK Biobank, and compare data of people with or without diabetes. In this study, we will see if the hearts of people with diabetes or poorly controlled blood sugar levels have more scars than those without diabetes. We will also do an analysis to see if the genes that predict diabetes and high blood sugar causes heart muscles to form scars. Finally, we will investigate if measuring heart scars in people with diabetes is worth doing, by demonstrating whether or not this measurement leads to earlier management of heart diseases. These series of studies will allow us to develop new strategies in preventing or slowing the progression of heart diseases of people with diabetes.