Welcome to Johns Hopkins Health Alerts!

"Johns Hopkins Health Alerts is an excellent site and I have recommended it to several of my friends. Thanks again, and keep up the good work!"
  • - D. Ambrosio


This free public service from Johns Hopkins Medicine helps keep you up to date on the latest breakthroughs for the most common medical conditions which prevent healthy aging.

Get the latest news sent straight to your inbox for FREE. Check all the boxes below for the topics that interest you.
We value your privacy and will never rent your email address

Johns Hopkins Health Alert

The Eye-Heart Connection

Comments (0)

More than 20 years ago, the Framingham Heart and Eye Study uncovered an association between diabetic retinopathy and cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease and stroke. Several European studies have noted the link as well. And some studies also found that as diabetic retinopathy worsens, the risk of cardiovascular disease mounts. 

But several recent studies have honed in more closely on the details behind the connection. For example, researchers recently reported a strong association between diabetic retinopathy and the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries. Calcium levels are a reliable marker for atherosclerosis, which can lead to stroke, heart attack, and, yes, eye problems. Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of arteries from plaque, a buildup on blood vessel walls of cholesterol but also of calcium and other substances.

For the study, which was reported in Diabetes Care, investigators used computed tomography to detect the level of calcium in each of four spots in the coronary arteries in 204 people with type 2 diabetes. They found that those with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (the dangerous growth of new blood vessels on the back of the vitreous humor) were six times more likely to have coronary artery calcium (CAC) levels over 400 -- a score that places them at risk for heart disease -- than people who didn't have the condition. The median CAC score among those with proliferative diabetic retinopathy was 981. For people who did not have proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the median CAC score was 197. 

The researchers also found that when they accounted for other risk factors for heart disease, such as age, low levels of the "good" cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), high triglyceride levels, prior heart-related illnesses, weight, smoking, and high blood pressure, the association between diabetic retinopathy and calcium levels persisted. 

Taken together, these findings suggest that increased CAC levels are an independent risk factor for diabetic retinopathy and that both may be caused by the same underlying pathology. Pathologies implicated in the development of diabetic retinopathy include the accumulation of sugars, damage to cells by free radicals, bonding of sugar with protein molecules, stimulation of certain biological pathways, and increased levels of certain growth factors -- all of which have been associated with the development of atherosclerosis.

 

Posted in Vision on November 19, 2010


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer


Notify Me

Would you like us to inform you when we post new Vision Health Alerts?

Post a Comment

Comments

Health Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the Johns Hopkins editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Johns Hopkins Medicine or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


Post a Comment


Already a subscriber?

Login

Forgot your password?

New to Johns Hopkins Health Alerts?

Register to submit your comments.

(example: yourname@domain.com)

Customer Service

Registered Users Log-in:

Forgot Password?

Become a Registered User!
It's fast and FREE!
The Benefits of Being a Registered User

Health Topic Pages

  • Health Alert
  • Special Report

What is this?

XML