Aims: Diabetes mellitus (DM) is associated with macrovascular disease and impaired aortic function. We hypothesized that the change in aortic elastic properties could be investigated with colour tissue Doppler imaging (CTDI) in Type 1 diabetic patients and that these findings could be related to the aortic stiffness index.
Methods: We examined by echocardiography 66 patients with Type 1 DM (mean age 35 +/- 10 years, mean duration of disease 20 +/- 9 years) without a history of arterial hypertension or coronary artery disease (negative thallium-201 stress test) and 66 age- and sex-matched normal subjects. Arterial pressure was measured before echocardiography was performed. Internal aortic systolic and diastolic diameters by M-mode echocardiography and aortic systolic upper wall tissue velocity (Sao, cm/s) by CTDI were measured 3 cm above the aortic valve. Aortic distensibility and aortic stiffness index were calculated using accepted formulae.
Results: Aortic stiffness, distensibility and Sao velocity differed significantly between the studied groups. In the diabetic group, duration of diabetes correlated with aortic stiffness (r = 0.53, P < 0.001), distensibility (r = -0.61, P < 0.001) and Sao velocity (r = -0.48, P < 0.001). There was a negative correlation between aortic stiffness and Sao velocity (r = -0.49, P < 0.001). Multiple stepwise linear regression analysis in the diabetic group revealed that aortic S velocity (beta = 0.30, P = 0.005) and duration of diabetes (beta = -0.49, P = 0.001) were the main predictors of aortic distensibility (overall R(2) = 0.48).
Conclusions: Aortic elastic properties can be directly assessed by measuring the movements in the upper aortic wall. Reduced aortic S velocity is associated with increased aortic stiffness in Type 1 diabetic patients.