Recommendations for the use of cardiovascular tests in diagnosing diabetic autonomic neuropathy

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Jan;21(1):69-78. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2010.07.005.


Despite its prevalence, clinical and prognostic impact, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, is widely under-diagnosed. The need for training and expertise to perform the cardiovascular tests (usually the task of diabetologists) is one possible reason. The availability of computer-assisted systems has allowed a wider diffusion of testing, but has also highlighted the need for an adequate knowledge of physiopathological backgrounds for their correct application and interpretation. The recommendations presented here were developed by the Neuropathy Study Group of the Italian Society of Diabetology and then endorsed by the Italian Association for the Study of Neurovegetative System, to promote the widespread adoption of good clinical practice in diabetic cardiovascular autonomic testing by outlining main evidence-based aspects, i.e. which tests, how to perform them, adequate interpretation of the results and their diagnostic use, confounding conditions that can impact on tests reliability. Therefore, these recommendations include the essential aspects of the physiopathological substrate of the tests, the controversial points in their analysis, their diagnostic characteristics, as well as safety. Detailed information is given on the physiological (age, weight, body position, resting heart rate and blood pressure, respiratory pattern, exercise, meals, acute blood glucose changes) and pathophysiological confounding factors, with emphasis on the effects of drugs. Instructions on how to perform the tests and interpret their results are also considered together with indications of candidate patients and periodicity of testing. A patient instruction sheet on why and how to perform the tests is included. Finally, the specific requirements for computerized systems to perform and evaluate cardiovascular tests are provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Diabetic Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / diagnosis*
  • Disease Progression
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Selection
  • Reference Standards
  • Risk Assessment


  • Biomarkers