Retinopathy predicts stroke but not myocardial infarction in type 2 diabetes: The Fremantle Diabetes Study Phase II

Jocelyn J. Drinkwater, Timothy M.E. Davis, Valentina Hellbusch, Angus W. Turner, David G. Bruce, Wendy A. Davis

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Microangiopathy in type 2 diabetes (T2D) is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), but most relevant studies were performed > 10 years ago. CVD risk factor management has since improved. The aim of this study was to determine whether diabetic retinopathy (DR) and its severity increases stroke and myocardial infarction (MI) risk in a contemporary cohort. Methods: Fremantle Diabetes Study Phase II participants with T2D had DR graded from fundus photography at baseline between 2008 and 2011. Subsequent hospitalizations and mortality for MI or stroke were ascertained through validated data linkage to end-2016. Cox regression modelling identified predictors of first stroke and MI including DR presence and severity. Results: The 1521 participants with T2D and known DR status (mean age 65.6 years, 52.1% males, median diabetes duration 9.0 years) were followed for a mean of 6.6 years. After excluding those with prior MI/stroke, there were 126 incident MIs among 1393 eligible participants and 53 incident strokes in 1473 eligible participants, respectively. Moderate non-proliferative DR (NPDR) or worse was significantly and independently associated with an increased risk of incident stroke (adjusted hazard ratio 2.55 (95% CI 1.19, 5.47), p = 0.016). Retinopathy presence and severity increased the risk of incident MI in unadjusted models (p ≤ 0.001), but these associations were no longer statistically significant after adjusting for other risk factors. Conclusions: Moderate NPDR or worse was associated with an increased risk of first stroke in Australians with T2D. Intensified CVD risk factor management should be considered for patients with at least moderate NPDR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalCardiovascular Diabetology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2020


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