Fat outside the veins may contribute to poor heart health in diabetics

Fat outside the arteries may be one of the single most prominent factors that contribute to the development of heart disease in individuals with type 2 diabetes, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati.

Investigators said that perivascular adipose tissue - fat that surrounds the veins - is often overlooked when assessing heart health. However, it appears to play a major role in heart attack and stroke risk, particularly in obese diabetics.

"Obesity is a growing problem, but most information that is coming from scientists and clinicians involves visceral adipose tissue - or the beer belly - which leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease," said David Manka, who led the study. "The fat that grows around the larger arteries throughout the body has been largely ignored."

For the study, researchers transplanted perivascular fat tissue to a group of mice. They found that these mice were significantly more likely to develop heart health problems. Additionally, they were more likely to develop metabolic dysfunction.

Manka said that their findings may be the missing link in the connection between type 2 diabetes and heart disease.