Diabetics have to reduce the intake of fatty foods if they do not want to die suddenly, a new study has shown. 

A study, conducted by researchers at University of Iowa (UI) and published in the latest edition of journal Circulation Research, says people suffering from diabetes run two-to-five-fold risks of heart failure.

The fat harms the cells’ essential ability to produce energy.

Diabetes and obesity are often characterised with excess fat in the heart, which is the most energy-hungry organ in human body.

According to the study, lipid overload in the heart causes numerous small, mis-shapen mitochondria that do not produce energy as efficiently as normal mitochondria.

Healthy heart cells, like a combustion engine, consume fuel molecules to create necessary energy to keep the heart pumping.

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But diabetes reduces the heart muscle’s metabolic adaptability and causes heart cells to overuse fat as a metabolic fuel, which ultimately leads to mitochondrial and cardiac damage.

“Diabetes, which affects almost 30 million Americans, significantly increases the risk of heart failure,’’ said study leader, E. Dale Abel, professor of internal medicine at the UI Carver College of Medicine.

Researchers have detected that increased amount of fat in the heart triggers dramatic changes in the structure and function of the mitochondria in the heart.

The findings said that prolonged lipid overload increases the levels of damaging substances called reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Excess ROS alters the activity of several important proteins that work to control the size and shape of mitochondria, thus disrupting the mitochondrial network, Reuters quoted the study as saying.

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It found that if ROS in normal heart cells is removed, mitochondria becomes four times as large as normal, indicating that ROS levels are inversely proportional to mitochondria size.

In conclusion, cardiac lipid overload, which disrupts normal mitochondrial structure, would damage energy production and heart function. 

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