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High blood sugar in patients with diabetes causes damage to blood vessels, and new research may reveal how - a glucose-derived molecule modifies proteins that affect the blood vessels.
According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Hypertension, elevated glucose lowers the level of nitric oxide in the blood vessels, which prevents them from relaxing. Constricted and rigid blood vessels lead to higher blood pressure, permanent narrowing of the vessels and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
"We know diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and we think this is one of the reasons," said Dr Rita C. Tostes, physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine.
Most of the glucose in the body gets converted into energy for cells, but about 5 percent gets converted to a special form that modifies proteins. The researchers found that in mice, the more of this modified sugar in the blood, the less nitric oxide is produced, therefore people who have high sugar levels in blood tests, such as diabetics, may also suffer from low levels of nitric oxide.
If these results hold up, it may mean an even stronger reason for people to monitor and test their blood sugar.
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