Sudden cardiac death in diabetes mellitus: Risk factors in the Rochester diabetic neuropathy study

Guillermo A. Suarez, V. M. Clark, J. E. Norell, T. E. Kottke, M. J. Callahan, P. C. O'Brien, P. A. Low, P. J. Dyck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine risk factors for sudden cardiac death and the role of diabetic autonomie neuropathy (DAN) in the Rochester diabetic neuropathy study (RDNS) Methods: Associations between diabetic and cardiovascular complications, including DAN, and the risk of sudden cardiac death were studied among 462 diabetic patients (151 type 1) enrolled in the RDNS. Medical records, death certificates, and necropsy reports were assessed for causes of sudden cardiac death. Results: 21 cases of sudden cardiac death were identified over 15 years of follow up. In bivariate analysis of risk covariates, the following were significant: ECG 1 (evolving and previous myocardial infarctions): hazard ratio (HR) = 4.4 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.6 to 12.1), p = 0.004; ECG 2 (bundle branch block or pacing): HR = 8.6 (2.9 to 25.4), p<0.001; ECG 1 or ECG 2: HR = 4.2 (1.3 to 13.4), p = 0.014; and nephropathy stage: HR = 2.1 (1.3 to 3.4), p = 0.002. Adjusting for ECG 1 or ECG 2, autonomie scores, QTc interval, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, 24 hour microalbuminuria, and 24 hour total proteinuria were significant. However, adjusting for nephropathy, none of the autonomic indices, QTc interval, HDL cholesterol, microalbuminuria, or total proteinuria was significant. At necropsy, all patients with sudden cardiac death had coronary artery or myocardial disease. Conclusions: Sudden cardiac death was correlated with atherosclerotic heart disease and nephropathy, and to a lesser degree with DAN and HDL cholesterol. Although DAN is associated with sudden cardiac death, it is unlikely to be its primary cause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-245
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


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