Cardiorespiratory reflexes (CRR) were studied by measuring heart-rate variation during 6 breaths/min respiration and a Valsalva maneuver in 232 insulin-dependent diabetic subjects. Abnormalities were found in 175 patients. During a 7-yr follow-up, 41 (23.4%) patients with abnormal and 2 (3.5%) with normal CRR tests died. The mortality rates of diabetic patients with abnormal autonomie function tests were 17% at 2.5 yr, 33% at 5 yr, and 40% at 7 yr, significantly higher (P < 0.002) than in patients with normal tests (rates of 4.6, 4.6, and 13.8% at the respective intervals). Nerve conduction studies (NCS) were indicative of somatic neuropathy in 148 of 205 patients. Mortality rates were higher in patients with abnormal NCS than in those with normal results (P < 0.025). Among patients with abnormal autonomie function, patients with a functioning pancreas transplantation (PTx) had better survival rates than patients with a failed PTx (P < 0.005) and, on long-term follow-up, better rates than patients without PTx. Similar results were found comparing the same group of patients who had abnormal NCS.

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