Aspects of Hyperglycemia Contribution to Arterial Stiffness and Cardiovascular Complications in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes

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Controlling the blood glucose level is of outmost importance for the prevention of the micro- and macrovascular diabetic complications observed in patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Although the pathogenesis behind the complex cascade of complications is far from solved, one possible mechanism could be a negative effect of glucose on the arteries resulting in a stiffening of the arteries and ultimately in vascular complications. Intriguingly, patients with T1D have been shown to suffer from premature arterial aging compared to nondiabetic subjects—an association that is even more evident in the presence of diabetic complications such as diabetic nephropathy. Arterial stiffness has in several patient populations been shown to independently predict cardiovascular disease. However, interventional studies aimed at attenuating arterial stiffness to reduce cardiovascular disease in T1D are yet to come. Moreover, most of the data on pharmacological treatments of arterial stiffening are directed toward pathophysiological pathways other than hyperglycemia. Interestingly, the sodium-glucose transport-2 (SGLT2) inhibitor empagliflozin was recently shown to reduce both blood pressure and arterial stiffness in patients with type 2 diabetes. Whether, these effects can also be replicated in patients with T1D is an intriguing question. Tight metabolic and antihypertensive control are still of central importance for the prevention and the treatment of diabetic complications. However, the need for a noninvasive intermediate marker to identify at risk patients for aggressive treatment is evident. One such tool might be arterial stiffness linking diabetes to increased cardiovascular risk. Future research efforts exploring large-scale databases will play a key role in the identification of other clinically useful markers.

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