Youth with type 1 diabetes show early signs of atherosclerosis

July 8, 2011

Young people with type 1 diabetes have thicker and stiffer carotid arteries that indicate atherosclerosis, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke in adults, data from a recent study indicate.

Young people with type 1 diabetes have thicker and stiffer carotid arteries that indicate atherosclerosis, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke in adults, data from a recent study indicate.

The SEARCH CVD study, results of which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego, is believed to be the first to examine whether type 1 diabetes has a measurable effect on the carotid arteries in youth.

Because previous research indicated that young people with type 1 diabetes may have subclinical vascular damage, researchers compared arterial stiffness in 237 young people with type 1 diabetes (mean age, 19.5 years; mean duration of diabetes, 10.1 years) and 125 nondiabetic controls (mean age, 19.2 years). Arterial stiffness was determined by carotid-femoral vascular segment pulse wave velocity (PWV), augmentation index adjusted to a heart rate of 75 beats per minute, and brachial distensibility (brachD).

After adjustment for age, race, and sex, patients with type 1 diabetes had thicker and stiffer carotid arteries than controls. On multivariate analysis, body mass index and systolic blood pressure were found to be associated with worse arterial stiffness (higher PWV and lower brachD). Among patients with type 1 diabetes, higher hemoglobin A1c levels were associated with higher PWV.

Body mass index, blood pressure, and glycemic control appear to be modifiable risk factors for vascular disease in youth with type 1 diabetes, the researchers concluded.

The research is part of the SEARCH CVD study, a collaboration between the University of Colorado, Colorado School of Public Health, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Ohio, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Wadwa RP, Urbina EM, Talton J, et al. Arterial stiffness in youth and young adults with and without type 1 diabetes: the SEARCH CVD study. Poster presented at: 71st Scientific Sessions, American Diabetes Association; June 24-28, 2011; San Diego, CA. Abstract No. 0506-P.