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Acta Diabetol. 1992;28(3-4):199-202.

Asymptomatic coronary artery disease in diabetes: associated with autonomic neuropathy?

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Department of Medicine, Oulu University, Finland.


To elucidate the potential association of diabetic autonomic neuropathy with increased prevalence of silent coronary artery disease (CAD), 138 asymptomatic diabetic subjects were screened using exercise ECG. 24-h ambulatory ECG and dynamic thallium scintigraphy. Fourteen patients with exercise-induced myocardial ischaemia and angiographically confirmed CAD (greater than or equal to 50% coronary artery narrowing) were found using this protocol. Their autonomic nervous function was assessed using standard cardiovascular tests and compared with that of 23 consecutive diabetic patients catheterised because of symptomatic CAD (mean New York Heart Association class 3.0). The diabetic patients with symptomatic CAD had more severe coronary atherosclerosis than the diabetic patients with asymptomatic CAD assessed by jeopardy score (P less than 0.01). The groups did not, however, differ with respect to autonomic function tests. Five patients (22%) with symptomatic CAD and 3 patients (21%) with asymptomatic CAD had definite autonomic dysfunction, i.e. two or more abnormal tests. Thus, our results suggest that the frequency of autonomic neuropathy is not increased in diabetic patients with asymptomatic CAD. The contribution of diabetic autonomic neuropathy to the absence of cardiac pain needs further clinical and pathological studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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