Proliferative retinopathy has been shown to be associated with increased all-cause mortality in diabetic patients. We assessed the relationship between the different degrees of retinopathic changes at baseline and serious coronary heart disease (CHD) events (CHD death or nonfatal myocardial infarction) in a prospective population-based study of NIDDM patients.
Our study is based on the 7-year follow-up cohort of 1,059 NIDDM patients in east and west Finland. Classification of retinopathic changes was based on clinical examination of fundi, and the findings were classified to three categories according to the status of the worse eye: no retinopathic changes, background retinopathy, and proliferative retinopathy.
During the 7-year follow-up, 255 (24%) patients developed serious CHD event. In patients with proliferative retinopathy at baseline, the risk of CHD events during the follow-up was statistically significantly higher compared with patients without retinopathic changes (odds ratio [OR] 2.31, 95% CI 1.21–4.40). The association between proliferative retinopathy and CHD events remained significant when other cardiovascular risk factors were controlled for.
Proliferative retinopathy in NIDDM patients was associated with CHD events. Our findings suggest that retinopathy and CHD may have similar pathophysiological backgrounds.