Peripheral and autonomic nerve function was assessed in 10 newly diagnosed male diabetics (six insulin-treated and four sulfonylureatreated) with repeated observations over the subsequent six months. There was significant impairment of motor-conduction velocity in the common peroneal nerve at diagnosis in both treatment groups, with improvement following treatment in only the insulin-treated patients.
In contrast, although the blood glucose level fell in both groups, the mean level was significantly lower in the sulfonyhireatreated patients at two months and at each subsequent visit.
In the autonomic function tests significant abnormality was found in the electrocardiographic R-R-interval (beat-to-beat) variation in resting heart rate in two of the insulin-treated patients and all of the sulfonylurea-treated group, with improvement in only one of the latter. One patient in the sulfonylurea-treated group also showed an abnormal response to the Valsalva maneuver (expressed as the Valsalva ratio), and this remained abnormal throughout the period of study. All other patients had normal responses to the Valsalva maneuver and sustained handgrip test. None of the patients had postural hypotension. Abnormalities in autonomic nerve function in diabetics at diagnosis have not been previously reported.