Elevated risk of cardiovascular disease prior to clinical diagnosis of type 2 diabetes

Diabetes Care. 2002 Jul;25(7):1129-34. doi: 10.2337/diacare.25.7.1129.


Objective: To examine whether the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is elevated before clinical diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in women.

Research design and methods: A total of 117,629 female nurses aged 30-55 years who were free of diagnosed CVD at baseline were recruited in 1976 and followed for 20 years.

Results: A total of 1,508 women had diagnosed type 2 diabetes at baseline in 1976. During 20 years of follow-up, 110,227 women remained free of diabetes diagnosis and 5,894 women developed type 2 diabetes. During 2.2 million person-years of follow-up, we documented 1,556 new cases of myocardial infarction (MI), 1,405 strokes, 815 fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), and 300 fatal strokes. Among women who developed type 2 diabetes during follow-up, the age-adjusted RRs of MI were 3.75 (95% CI 3.10-4.53) for the period before the diagnosis and 4.57 (3.87-5.39) for the period after the diagnosis, compared with women who remained free of diabetes diagnosis. The multivariate RRs further adjusting for BMI, smoking, and other cardiovascular risk factors were 3.17 (2.61-3.85) and 3.97 (3.35-4.71). The risk of stroke was also significantly elevated before diagnosis of diabetes (multivariate RR = 2.30 [1.76-2.99]). Further adjustment for history of hypertension or hypercholesterolemia did not appreciably alter the results.

Conclusions: Our data indicate a substantially elevated risk of CVD before clinical diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in women. These findings suggest that aggressive management of cardiovascular risk factors is warranted in individuals at increased risk for diabetes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Nurses
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Time Factors