Anaemia is common in patients with diabetes and associated with an increased risk of diabetic complications. Although the role of anaemia in heart failure is established, we hypothesize that anaemia also contributes to an increased risk of cardiac dysfunction in patients with Type II diabetes. In the present study, 228 consecutive adults with diabetes were investigated using transthoracic echocardiography. Echocardiographic parameters were correlated with the Hb (haemoglobin) level and adjusted for other risk factors for cardiac dysfunction using multivariate analysis. More than one in five patients (23%) had anaemia, which was an independent risk factor for cardiac dysfunction on echocardiography. Over one-third of all patients with evidence of abnormal cardiac function (diastolic and/or systolic dysfunction) on echocardiography had anaemia compared with <5% of patients with normal echocardiographic findings. Most patients with anaemia had cardiac dysfunction (94%), with the major abnormality being diastolic dysfunction associated with an increased left ventricular mass and impaired relaxation indices. A continuous association between diastolic function and Hb was also observed in patients without anaemia. In patients with a history of cardiovascular disease, systolic dysfunction was twice as common in patients with anaemia. Anaemia was also correlated with plasma markers of cardiac risk, including BNP (brain natriuretic peptide), CRP (C-reactive protein) and AVP (arginine vasopressin). Notably, the predictive utility of these markers was eliminated after adjusting for Hb. Consequently, the inexpensive measurement of Hb may be a useful tool to identify diabetic patients at increased risk of cardiac dysfunction.

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