Linking the Eyes and the Heart

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By: Elka Karl

People with retinopathy have ahigher rate of congestive heart failure(CHF), even those without preexistingcoronary heart disease, diabetes orhypertension.

More than 11,000 participants ina seven-year study in four U.S.communities had retinal photographstaken between 1993 and 1995. Thephotographs were assessed for thepresence of retinopathy. The seven-yearincidence of CHF was 5.4 percent.

The presence of retinopathy, a markerof microvascular disease, indicatedtwice the risk of CHF. In participantswithout preexisting coronary heartdisease, diabetes or hypertension,retinopathy was associated with atripled risk of CHF.

Microvascular disease may be animportant indicator of development ofheart failure in the general population.

Journal of the American MedicalAssociation, January 2005

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