Gastric Emptying Linked to Cardiovascular Complication

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By: Ben Eastman

Researchers have discovered that cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy (CANP) affects more than the heart. A new study shows that the diabetes complication is also related to slower gastric emptying in people with type I diabetes.

Delayed gastric emptying is a late complication of diabetes that studies have found to affect roughly 40 to 50 percent of those with type 1 diabetes. The impaired gastric motor function causes irregular and unpredictable delivery of food to the small intestines (where it is absorbed into the bloodstream). This makes insulin dosing difficult. If the food is absorbed by the bloodstream later than expected, hypoglycemia can result.

A clinical investigation of delayed type I gastric emptying, published in the March 1997 Diabetes Care, found that it was affected by the degree of CANP. Surprisingly, the researchers found that BG levels before the meal, glycemic control as measured by HbA1c and peripheral neuropathy seem not to be related to the rate of gastric emptying.

CANP was found to be significantly associated with age, type 1 duration and increased levels of albuminuria. The condition was found in 39 percent of the people with type 1 diabetes studied. In addition, all of the people with type I studied had slower gastric emptying than the nondiabetic participants.

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