Context: Risk factors for cardiovascular complications in Japanese patients with diabetes have not been fully elucidated.
Objective: Our objective was to determine incidence of and risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke in Japanese diabetic patients.
Design and settings: We conducted a prospective study at 59 hospitals throughout Japan.
Patients: Patients included 940 men and 831 women with type 2 diabetes (mean age, 58.2 yr) without a history of cardiovascular complications who were followed for a median of 7.86 yr.
Intervention: This was an observational study.
Main outcome measures: Incidence of CHD and stroke was evaluated.
Results: Incidences of CHD and stroke per 1000 person-years were 9.59 and 7.45, respectively, whereas those of myocardial and brain infarctions were 3.84 and 6.29, respectively. Multivariate Cox analysis revealed that the serum log-transformed triglyceride level was a potent and independent predictor of CHD [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.54; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.22-1.94 per 1 sd increase), comparable to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (HR = 1.49; 95% CI = 1.25-1.78 per 1 sd increase). Triglycerides and LDL cholesterol linearly and continuously increased CHD risk, and subjects in the top third for both had markedly high risks of CHD, and their effects were possibly additive. However, serum triglycerides worked independently of blood pressure levels. Systolic blood pressure was the only significant predictor for stroke except for age (HR = 1.31; 95% CI = 1.04-1.65, per 1 sd increase).
Conclusions: In Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes, the serum triglyceride level was a leading predictor of CHD, comparable to LDL cholesterol. Because the serum triglyceride level is not a leading predictor of CHD in diabetic subjects in Western countries, ethnic group-specific strategies for prevention of diabetic macroangiopathy may be indicated.