How High Blood Sugar Levels Affect Lungs and Heart

By Denise Reynolds RD on April 22, 2013 – 8:59am for eMaxHealth
Heart Disease Symptoms Diabetes Care Current News

One complication of diabetes is heart disease, as patients with chronically high blood sugar are at greater risk for high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Recent research has uncovered a new reason to keep blood sugar in check. The damaging effects can impede our ability to breathe properly and pump blood through the body.

Researchers with the University of Washington and Boston University have discovered that elastin, a type of protein found in organs such as the heart and lungs that help the tissue stretch and retract, is the source for an electrical property known as ferroelectricity, the ability of a molecule to switch charges from positive to negative. When exposed to sugar, some of the proteins can no longer perform their function, leading to a hardening of those tissues and ultimately the degrading of an artery or ligament.

“This finding is important because it tells us the origin of the ferroelectric switching phenomenon and also suggests it’s not an isolated occurrence in one type of tissue as we thought,” said co-corresponding author Jiangyu Li, a UW associate professor of mechanical engineering. “This could be associated with aging and diabetes, which I think gives more importance to the phenomenon.”

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