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Diabetic Retinopathy a Risk Factor for Heart Failure

Further evidence of microvascular disease role in heart failure risk for diabetic patients

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetic retinopathy is an independent risk factor for heart failure in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a report published in the April 22 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Ning Cheng, of the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,021 middle-aged patients with type 2 diabetes who had normal renal function and no clinical signs of coronary heart disease or heart failure at baseline. The subjects underwent examination for signs of diabetic retinopathy and were followed-up for 8.9 years.

There were 125 patients (12.8 percent) with diabetic retinopathy and 106 patients (10.1 percent) developed incident heart failure during the follow-up period. Among those with diabetic retinopathy, 21.6 percent went on to develop heart failure, versus only 8.5 percent of the patients without diabetic retinopathy, the researchers report. After controlling for confounding factors, patients with diabetic retinopathy had a 2.5-times higher risk of heart failure than those without retinopathy.

"These findings might provide further evidence to support a microvascular etiology of heart failure in diabetes and might suggest that diabetic patients with retinopathy signs might warrant a more careful cardiac evaluation and follow-up," the authors conclude.

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