Aims/hypothesis: We evaluated the effect of diabetic retinopathy on 25 year survival rate among a population-based cohort of type 1 diabetic patients from Fyn County, Denmark.
Methods: In 1973 all diabetic patients from Fyn County, Denmark with onset before the age of 30 years as of 1 July 1973 were identified (n=727). In 1981, only 627 patients were still alive and resident in Denmark. Of these, 573 (91%) participated in a clinical baseline examination, in which diabetic retinopathy was graded and other markers of diabetes measured. Mortality rate was examined in a 25 year follow-up and related to the baseline examination.
Results: Of the 573 patients examined at baseline in 1981 and 1982, 297 (51.8%) were still alive in November 2006. Of the others, 256 (44.7%) had died, three (0.5%) had left Denmark and 17 (3%) were of unknown status. Age- and sex-adjusted HRs of mortality rate were 1.01 (95% CI 0.72-1.42) and 2.04 (1.43-2.91) for patients with non-proliferative and proliferative retinopathy respectively at baseline compared with patients with no retinopathy. After adjusting for proteinuria, HR among patients with proliferative retinopathy lost statistical significance, but still remained 1.48 (95% CI 0.98-2.23). The 10 year survival rate of patients who had proliferative retinopathy as well as proteinuria at baseline was 22.2% and significantly lower (p<0.001) than in patients with proteinuria only (70.3%), proliferative retinopathy only (79.0%) or neither (86.6%).
Conclusions/interpretation: Proliferative retinopathy and proteinuria predict mortality rate in a population-based cohort of type 1 diabetic patients. In combination they act even more strongly. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy did not affect survival rate.