24-h ambulatory blood pressure and retinopathy in normoalbuminuric IDDM patients

Diabetologia. 1998 Jan;41(1):105-10. doi: 10.1007/s001250050874.


The role of blood pressure elevation in the incidence and progression of diabetic retinopathy is not clearly established and results have been conflicting. Blood pressure and urinary albumin excretion (UAE) are closely related. In order to evaluate the independent relationship between retinopathy and blood pressure elevation, precise information on UAE is essential, as confounding by renal disease (incipient or overt), cannot otherwise be excluded. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the association between diabetic retinopathy and 24-h ambulatory blood pressure (AMBP) in a group of well-characterized normoalbuminuric IDDM patients. In 65 normoalbuminuric (UAE < 20 microg/min) IDDM patients we performed 24-h AMBP (Spacelabs 90207) with readings at 20-min intervals. Fundus photographs were graded independently by two experienced ophthalmologists. UAE was measured by RIA and expressed as geometric mean of three overnight collections made within 1 week. HbA1c was determined by HPLC. Tobacco use and level of physical activity were assessed by questionnaire. Fifteen patients had no detectable retinal changes [grade 1], 35 had grade 2 retinopathy; and 15 had more advanced retinopathy [grade 3-6]. Diastolic night blood pressure was significantly higher in patients with diabetic retinopathy compared to patients without retinopathy (68 +/- 8 mmHg [grade 3-6] and 65 +/- 6 mmHg [grade 2], compared to 61 +/- 4 mmHg [grade 1], p = 0.02). Diurnal blood pressure variation was significantly blunted in the patients with retinopathy as indicated by a higher night/day ratio of diastolic blood pressure (84.6% +/- 4 [grade 3-6], and 81.2% +/- 6 [grade 2] compared to 79.1% +/- 4 [grade 1], p = 0.01). Heart rate tended to be higher in patients in group 2 and 3-6 compared to patients without retinopathy with p values of 0.07 and 0.11 for day-time and 24 h values, respectively. Mean HbA1c increased significantly with increasing levels of retinopathy (p < 0.01). Patients were similar regarding sex, age, tobacco use, and level of physical activity. Notably, UAE was almost identical in the three groups (5.0 x /divided by 1.7 [grade 1], 3.9 x /divided by 1.8 [grade 2], and 5.1 x /divided by 1.6 microg/min [grade 3-6]). In conclusion, night blood pressure is higher and circadian blood pressure variation blunted in patients with retinopathy compared to patients without retinopathy despite strict normoalbuminuria and similar UAE levels in the groups compared. Our data suggest that the association between blood pressure and diabetic retinopathy is present also when coexisting renal disease is excluded. Disturbed diurnal variation of blood pressure is a pathophysiological feature related to the development of both retinopathy and nephropathy in IDDM patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albuminuria
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / urine
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / urine
  • Diastole
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Systole