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Diabetes Care. 2013 Jun;36(6):1590-6. doi: 10.2337/dc12-1121. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

Early-adulthood cardiovascular disease risk factor profiles among individuals with and without diabetes in the Framingham Heart Study.

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National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s and Boston University’s Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, Massachusetts, USA.



Many studies of diabetes have examined risk factors at the time of diabetes diagnosis instead of considering the lifetime burden of adverse risk factor levels. We examined the 30-year cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor burden that participants have up to the time of diabetes diagnosis.


Among participants free of CVD, incident diabetes cases (fasting plasma glucose ≥ 126 mg/dL or treatment) occurring at examinations 2 through 8 (1979-2008) of the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort were age- and sex-matched 1:2 to controls. CVD risk factors (hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, obesity) were measured at the time of diabetes diagnosis and at time points 10, 20, and 30 years prior. Conditional logistic regression was used to compare risk factor levels at each time point between diabetes cases and controls.


We identified 525 participants with new-onset diabetes who were matched to 1,049 controls (mean age, 60 years; 40% women). Compared with those without diabetes, individuals who eventually developed diabetes had higher levels of hypertension (odds ratio [OR], 2.2; P = 0.003), high LDL (OR, 1.5; P = 0.04), low HDL (OR, 2.1; P = 0.0001), high triglycerides (OR, 1.7; P = 0.04), and obesity (OR, 3.3; P < 0.0001) at time points 30 years before diabetes diagnosis. After further adjustment for BMI, the ORs for hypertension (OR, 1.9; P = 0.02) and low HDL (OR, 1.7; P = 0.01) remained statistically significant.


CVD risk factors are increased up to 30 years before diagnosis of diabetes. These findings highlight the importance of a life course approach to CVD risk factor identification among individuals at risk for diabetes.

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