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Tall Patients Have Higher Risk of Peripheral Neuropathy

Insensate neuropathy twice the rate in diabetics, but tallness independently linked to greater risk

THURSDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetics are twice as likely as non-diabetics to develop peripheral insensate neuropathy, and patients who are tall have an additional risk regardless of whether or not they have diabetes, according to a study in the November issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Yiling J. Cheng, M.D., Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used the 1999-2002 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to investigate the association between height and lower limb peripheral insensate neuropathy in 5,229 diabetics and non-diabetics 40 years and older.

Peripheral insensate neuropathy was almost twice as common in diabetics (21.2 percent) as non-diabetics (11.5 percent). Men had a higher prevalence than women (16.2 percent versus 9.4 percent), but the difference was not significant after adjusting for height. Tallness was linked to more insensate neuropathy in both diabetics and non-diabetics, and was significantly greater in persons taller than 175.5 cm (adjusted odds ratio, 2.3).

"Body height is an important correlate of peripheral insensate neuropathy. This association largely accounts for the difference in peripheral insensate neuropathy prevalence between men and women. Height may help health care providers to identify persons at high risk of peripheral insensate neuropathy," the authors conclude.

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