The Eye as Window to the Heart in Blacks with Diabetes
AMONG AFRICAN Americans with type 1 diabetes mellitus‚ retinal arteriolar narrowing (the narrowing of the small arteries in the retina of the eye) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease‚ according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.
Monique S. Roy‚ MD‚ a professor in The Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at New Jersey Medicial School‚ and colleagues set out to evaluate the relationship between the diameter of small arteries in the retina and the six-year incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality among African Americans with type 1 diabetes mellitus.
"Retinal arteriolar narrowing has long been described as one of the characteristic changes associated with hypertension and cardiovascular disease (CVD)‚" the authors wrote as background information on the study.
The study included 468 African Americans with type 1 diabetes mellitus who participated in the New Jersey 725 and had undergone a six–year follow-up examination. At both study entry and follow-up‚ hypertension and the presence of heart disease‚ stroke or lower extremity arterial disease were documented and were confirmed by review of hospital admission and medical records.
During the six-year follow-up‚ 59 patients developed cardiovascular disease (37 with heart disease or stroke and 22 with lower extremity arterial disease)‚ and 79 developed hypertension. The authors found that retinal arteriolar narrowing at the study's beginning was significantly and independently associated with the development of cardiovascular disease‚ lower extremity arterial disease‚ and all causes of mortality after six years; and larger diameter veins in the retina predicted hypertension.
This research was supported by grants from the National Eye Institute‚ a Lew Wasserman Merit Award and an unrestricted grant from Research to Prevent Blindness‚ Inc.