Background: The high prevalence of classic cardiac risk factors in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus does not explain the increased cardiovascular-related morbidity and mortality in these patients. Fibrinogen may have a role in this excess risk.
Objective: To evaluate the following in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: 1) the distribution of plasma fibrinogen levels and the prevalence of hyperfibrinogenemia and 2) the association of fibrinogen level with hemoglobin A1c value and albumin excretion rate.
Design: Cross-sectional study of a population-based cohort.
Setting: Rural area in northern Italy.
Patients: 1574 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus who represented 81% of the initial cohort of 1967 patients.
Measurements: Albumin excretion rate was measured in urine samples obtained during an overnight collection. Venous blood samples were collected while patients fasted.
Results: Fibrinogen levels were available for 1525 of the 1574 patients who were examined (669 men and 856 women). The mean age (+/- SD) was 67.3 +/- 10.3 years for men and 70.7 +/- 10.7 years for women. The mean plasma fibrinogen level (+/- SD) was 3.6 +/- 0.9 g/L; levels slightly differed between men and women. In 50.3% of patients, plasma fibrinogen level exceeded 3.5 g/L. In men, fibrinogen level increased with age (P < 0.001). In both men and women, fibrinogen level adjusted for age and sex was significantly and linearly related to hemoglobin A1c value (P < 0.001) and albumin excretion rate (P < 0.001). In a multiple regression analysis, hemoglobin A1c value (b = 0.06; P < 0.001) and albumin excretion rate (b = 0.09; P = 0.005) were associated with fibrinogen level independent of other cardiovascular risk factors (sex, age, hypertensive status, total cholesterol level, smoking habit, and body mass index).
Conclusions: Patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus had a high prevalence of hyperfibrinogenemia. Fibrinogen level was independently associated with hemoglobin A1c value and albumin excretion rate, which suggests that fibrinogen may be involved in the increased cardiovascular risk of patients with diabetes mellitus.