Background: The Veterans Administration-HDL Intervention Trial is an ongoing, 20-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study aiming to assess the effect of gemfibrozil-improved low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality rates.
Methods and results: Eligible patients were men with low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and demonstrable coronary heart disease. A total of 2531 patients (average age 63.5 years) were randomly assigned in this study, with a mean high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level of 0.83 mmol/L (32 mg/dL) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level of 2.87 mmol/L (111 mg/dL). Baseline data provided the opportunity to assess the interaction of several coronary heart disease risk factors and comorbid vascular diseases. Of these patients, 206 had diabetes mellitus (DM) alone, 1021 had hypertension (HTN) alone, 421 had both DM and HTN, and 883 had neither ("others"). Considering the influence of these risk factors on comorbidities independent of smoking status, patients with DM alone had a 2-fold increase in the prevalence of peripheral vascular disease and a 1.5-fold increase in congestive heart failure. Patients with HTN had a significant increase in the prevalence of cerebrovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Patients with HTN and DM had a significant increase in all comorbidities. Smoking resulted in substantial increase of both peripheral vascular disease and cerebrovascular disease. Compared with nonsmoking patients with no DM or HTN, patients with DM and HTN and smoking had a 3-fold increase in the prevalence of peripheral vascular disease and a 3.5-fold increase in cerebrovascular disease (P < .001).
Conclusions: We conclude that DM is a strong correlate of peripheral vascular disease, hypertension of cerebrovascular disease, and that there is a strong additive effect between DM, HTN, and smoking on both.