Background: Patients who have insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and nephropathy have an excess of cardiovascular disease. Familial factors may in part account for this phenomenon.
Methods: We identified 61 white patients under 65 years of age with insulin-dependent diabetes who had nephropathy, and then matched them with 61 diabetic patients without nephropathy. We determined the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the parents of these patients with use of information obtained from death certificates or from the World Health Organization questionnaire for cardiovascular disease.
Results: The rates of ascertainment of information were 96 percent (n = 117) for the parents of diabetic patients with nephropathy and 95 percent (n = 116) for the parents of patients without nephropathy. Cardiovascular disease was more often a direct cause of death among the parents of diabetic patients with nephropathy (40 percent vs. 22 percent, P less than 0.03), and the combined morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease in this group was greater than that in the parents of diabetic patients without nephropathy (31 percent vs. 14 percent, P less than 0.01). The age-adjusted and sex-adjusted relative risk of cardiovascular disease in this group of parents was 2.9 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.5 to 5.5; P less than 0.001). Moreover, a paternal history of cardiovascular disease was associated with a significantly increased risk of nephropathy in the diabetic patient after the analysis was adjusted for age, sex, and duration of diabetes (odds ratio, 3.2; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.3 to 7.9; P less than 0.01). Among the diabetic patients with nephropathy, those who had had a cardiovascular event were much more likely to have a family history of cardiovascular disease (odds ratio, 6.2; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.0 to 19.0; P less than 0.005) than those who had not had such an event.
Conclusions: Among patients with insulin-dependent diabetes, a parental history of cardiovascular disease is significantly associated with the development of nephropathy and, among those with nephropathy, increases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.