In order to study left ventricular diastolic function in diabetes mellitus, simultaneous echo- and phonocardiograms were recorded in 142 diabetics (free from heart disease), 20 normal subjects, and 16 patients with coronary artery disease. The resultant traces were digitised, and left ventricular relaxation and the rate and duration of cavity dimension increase and wall thinning were determined. Diastolic variables of left ventricular function were normal in 12 young diabetics with no complications. Significantly delayed mitral valve opening relative to minimum dimension and aortic valve closure was found in all other groups of diabetics. Forty-four diabetics with severe microvascular complications had significantly reduced peak rate and prolonged duration of wall thinning and dimension increase. The abnormalities were unlike those found in subjects with coronary artery disease. The extent of microvascular complications was significantly correlated to most variables of diastolic function. This relation was maintained in 31 diabetics with significant cavity dimension increase during isovolumic relaxation (incoordinate relaxation). In 42 juvenile onset patients there was good correlation between the duration of diabetes and most variables of diastolic function. These studies show that the primary cardiac abnormality in diabetic micro-angiography is a prolonged duration and reduced rate of posterior wall thinning with impaired left ventricular dimension increase, reflecting abnormal myocardial properties.
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