A group of people from Kansas State University has recently been researching treatments for conditions related to diabetes and heart failure. Their main goal is to allow people to have more energy to do their daily tasks. This could drastically improve their lives. On the surface this research looks like nothing out of the ordinary. After all, diabetes and heart failure are very common problems. However, the subjects of the team's research are a bit unorthodox. They consist of rats, beetroot juice and fish oil.
Steven Copp has been studying the use of oxygen within the skeletal muscles. He's part of Kansas State University's Cardiorespiratory Exercise Physiology Laboratory. One of the results of heart failure and diabetes is that control over a person's peripheral blood vessels is altered. It was previously believed that only the heart developed dysfunction. Two other researchers, Tim Musch and David Poole, have shown that the peripheral blood vessels are also affected. Copp says that the altered peripheral blood vessels result in abnormalities in the circulatory system. The abnormalities in the circulatory system then create problems in the delivery of oxygen to the skeletal muscles, which is a major cause of fatigue.
In order to understand the way that oxygen delivery works in adults with heart failure and diabetes, healthy adults must be studied first. The process of oxygen delivery deteriorates as people with heart failure and diabetes age, but one day scientists will be able to find out exactly how this works. What they do know is that it will be easiest to fix these problems during their early stages. While researchers normally focus on medication and exercise for treatment, the group from Kansas is considering beetroot juice and fish oil as nutritional supplements.
Rats are very physiologically similar to human beings, which makes them a great candidate for research. They are placed on treadmills where they work out, and are then studied by the team. Older rats that have diabetes or heart failure have an altered nitric oxide function. This molecule is necessary for the function of healthy blood vessels in humans. Right now researchers are trying to find out if they can correct the altered nitric oxide function with a combination of supplements. If scientists can figure out a way to fix these problems with something as simple as fish oil and beetroot juice, the benefits for humans would be enormous. If the Kansas State University researchers can continue to receive funding for their work they will surely make many breakthroughs in the future.
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