Retinopathy damages the the retina. It's common among diabetics and may indicate a greater risk of developing congestive heart failure. Both retinopathy and congestive heart failure affect small blood vessels.
Diabetics with retinopathies and without cardiovascular disease, risk a higher incidence of congestive heart failure, than diabetics without retinopathies.
The April 22 issue of American College of Cardiology reports 21.6 percent of the participants with retinopathies developed congestive heart failure compared to 8.5 percent for those who did not. This was a nine-year study.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs in about 80 percent of those who have had diabetes 10 or more years, and does not discriminate by type 1 or 2. The walls of the retinal vessels become frail and bleeding occurs, leading to blindness if not cared for.
Congestive heart failure is another manifestation of small vessel disease. It occurs when the pumping of the heart weakens and the blood backs up, providing difficult breathing. One of the cardinal indications of congestive heart failure is fluid collecting in the lower extremities, such that when touched, an indentation is left for several moments. This condition is known as pitting edema. The cause of congestive failure in diabetics has long been associated with small vessel disease.
The study would seem to be a way to foretell the possibility of future events. I think finding predictors is all well and good, if patients and physicians pay attention to them. I wonder though, when these kinds of studies are published, whether people who don’t have retinopathies understand that they are still at high risk.
Routine eye care is vital for diabetics with or without retinal problems. Most ophthalmologists recommend a visit at least yearly. Some individuals see an optometrist, which is fine if you don’t have the eye disease. Once diagnosed, you will want to see a physician who specializes in retinal disorders. There is a difference between the two. Advise your doctor of your retinopathies and get a cardiac evaluation whether or not you have symptoms. Your cardiologist can decide how often you should be seen after that.