Aim: This study explored the role of glycemic control on cardiac autonomic function, measured by heart rate variability (HRV), in youth with type 1 diabetes.
Patients and methods: A retrospective cohort of 345 youth with type 1 diabetes (mean age, 18.5 years; duration, 10 years) participating in the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study were enrolled in the ancillary SEARCH Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) study. Anthropometric, metabolic, and HRV parameters were collected at the current research visit. Glycemic control over time was assessed by the mean glycated hemoglobin (A1c) levels collected over the past 6 years. Multiple linear regression analysis assessed the association between A1c over time and HRV parameters, independent of demographic and CVD risk factors. Participants were categorized into four glycemic control categories based on their mean A1c over time: Group 1, optimal (mean A1c, ≤7.4%); Group 2 (mean A1c, 7.5-8.4%); Group 3 (mean A1c, 8.5-9.4%), and Group 4, poor (mean A1c, ≥9.5%), and a linear trend was explored across these categories.
Results: For every 1% increase in the average A1c over 6 years there was a 5% decrease in the SD of the normal RR interval (SDNN) (P=0.02) and 7% decrease in the root mean square successive difference of the RR interval (RMSSD) (P=0.02), independent of demographic and traditional CVD risk factors. A dose-response relationship between worsening glucose control categories and measures of overall reduced HRV was found.
Conclusions: Chronic hyperglycemia is the main determinant of early cardiac autonomic dysfunction, manifested as reduced overall HRV and parasympathetic loss, among youth with type 1 diabetes.