The prevalence of diabetic complications is reported from a cross-sectional study of rural diabetic subjects in Western Australia. Logistic-regression analysis has been used to discover potential risk factors associated with each complication. A distinction has been made between time-related variables (age, age at diagnosis, duration of diabetes) and other risk variables. We have attempted to identify the major time-related risk variables for each complication and then examined the effect of other risk variables after accounting for the major time-related variables. The important time-related variables were found to be duration of diabetes for retinopathy, age for macrovascular disease, duration and age at diagnosis of diabetes for sensory neuropathy, and age for renal impairment. When matched on these important time-related variables, the overall prevalences of complications for insulin-dependent (IDDM) compared wjth non-insulin-dependent (NIDDM) diabetic patients were essentially the same. An exception is renal impairment, for which IDDM patients had a higher prevalence than did NIDDM patients of the same age. After allowing for time-related variables, the analysis also demonstrates positive independent associations between diabetic control (glycosylated hemoglobin) and retinopathy and between diabetic control and macrovascular disease. Plasma cholesterol (positively) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (negatively) were related independently to both macrovascular disease and renal impairment. Very few differences in the risk-factor profiles for complications were found for IDDM compared with NIDDM patients after allowing for time-related variables.

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