Purpose: Abnormal fibrils can be identified by electron microscopy in the heart, lung, liver, kidney, cerebral meninges and other tissues of patients with exfoliation syndrome (ES). However, a clinical association of ES with arterial hypertension (HT), ischaemic heart disease (IHD), cerebrovascular accidents and aneurysm of the abdominal aorta is debated. We conducted a national registry-based survey to further assess the first two of these associations.
Methods: We reviewed the records of 519 consecutive patients to whom the Social Insurance Institution of Finland had granted free medication for glaucoma according to national common criteria. The glaucoma was classified either as primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) or exfoliation glaucoma (EG), masked to any systemic diseases; 20 patients with other types of glaucoma were excluded from the survey. Masked to the type of glaucoma, the registry provided data on free medication similarly granted for HT, IHD and diabetes mellitus (DM), a known modifier of risk for cardiovascular disease. Data were analysed by logistic regression, modelling age, gender and DM as confounders.
Results: The control group of 344 patients with POAG was comparable as regards gender with the study group of 155 patients with EG, but patients with POAG were both younger (mean 69 versus 73 years; P < 0.0001) and had DM twice as often (10% versus 5%; P = 0.05) compared to those with EG. Adjusting for age, gender and presence of DM, no difference in frequency of HT [odds ratio (OR) 0.80 for presence of EG; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.52-1.23, P = 0.31] or IHD (OR 0.86 for presence of EG; 95% CI 0.49-1.13, P = 0.66) was detected between the two groups.
Conclusion: In this population-based registry survey, no difference in frequency of HT or IHD was noted between patients with POAG and EG who had been granted free medication for these chronic diseases according to national common criteria. The frequency of DM was lower among patients with EG, in line with several previous reports.