Sugar overload can damage heart, research shows

June 14, 2013, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Too much sugar can set people down a pathway to heart failure, according to a study led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

A single small molecule, the glucose metabolite glucose 6-phosphate (G6P), causes stress to the heart that changes the muscle proteins and induces poor pump function leading to heart failure, according to the study, which was published in the May 21 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association. G6P can accumulate from eating too much starch and/or sugar.

Heart failure kills 5 million Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The one-year survival rate after diagnosis is 50 percent and there are 550,000 new patients in the United States diagnosed with each year.

"Treatment is difficult. Physicians can give diuretics to control the fluid, and beta-blockers and to lower the stress on the heart and allow it to pump more economically," said Heinrich Taegtmeyer, M.D., D.Phil., principal investigator and professor of cardiology at the UTHealth Medical School. "But we still have these terrible statistics and no new treatment for the past 20 years."

Taegtmeyer performed preclinical trials in animal models, as well as tests on tissue taken from patients at the Texas Heart Institute who had a piece of the heart muscle removed in order to implant a assist device by O.H. "Bud" Frazier, M.D., and his team. Both led to the discovery of the damage caused by G6P.

"When the heart muscle is already stressed from or other diseases, and then takes in too much glucose, it adds insult to injury," Taegtmeyer said.

The study has opened doors to possible new treatments. Two drugs, rapamycin (an ) and metformin (a diabetes medication) disrupt signaling of G6P and improved cardiac power in small animal studies.

"These drugs have a potential for treatment and this has now cleared a path to future studies with patients," Taegtmeyer said.

Explore further: Heart failure patients living longer, but long-term survival still low

Related Stories

Heart failure patients living longer, but long-term survival still low

May 16, 2013
People hospitalized for acute heart failure are likely to survive longer compared to the prior decade, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association and presented at the American Heart Association's ...

African-American breast cancer survivors face higher risk of heart failure

March 7, 2013
African-American women who survive breast cancer are more likely to develop heart failure than other women who have beaten the disease, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual ...

Heart failure patients with diabetes may benefit from higher glucose levels

April 9, 2012
Lowering glucose levels for people with diabetes is normally critical to improving health outcomes. But for those with heart failure, that might not always be the case, say UCLA researchers.

Getting fit in middle age can reduce heart failure risk

May 15, 2013
Middle aged and out of shape? It's not too late to get fit—and reduce your risk for heart failure, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions ...

Drug may improve outcomes after heart attack

March 12, 2013
The prescription drug eplerenone appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality and heart failure after a heart attack by more than one-third, according to research presented today at the American College of Cardiology's ...

Heart separation device improves 3 year outcomes in heart failure patients

August 27, 2012
A novel non-invasive device which separates healthy and damaged heart muscle and restores ventricle function improves 3 year outcomes in patients with ischemic heart failure, according to research presented at the ESC Congress ...

Recommended for you

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improve heart attack recovery

January 10, 2018
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.