Risk Factors for Diabetic Neuropathy
Reported January 27, 2005
— Controlling blood sugar may not be the only thing diabetics need to do to avoid the painful condition known as diabetic neuropathy.
Researchers from the United Kingdom found the condition can be exacerbated by high triglyceride levels, being overweight, smoking, and high blood pressure — all factors people can control.
The authors note proper blood sugar control can markedly decrease the risk of neuropathy, with previous studies showing a 60-percent reduction in incidence among intensively treated patients. However, a significant number of patients are still affected despite good control. Identifying additional risk factors, authors write, might lead to new risk-reduction strategies.
Their study set out to accomplish that goal. They looked at about 1,200 people with type 1 diabetes who were initially screened for neuropathy between 1989 and 1991. None of the patients had the condition, which is characterized by loss of feeling or painful tingling in various parts of the body, at the initial screen. All patients were followed for about seven years.
During that time, 276 patients, or about 23 percent, developed neuropathy. While incidence of the condition was related to blood sugar control and diabetes duration, researchers also found a greater neuropathy risk among those with the risk factors previously mentioned.
Bringing blood pressure under better control, eating right to lower triglyceride levels, losing weight, and stopping smoking could all help people avoid the diabetic complication, authors conclude.
SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, 2005;352:341-350