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Cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy in patients with type 2 diabetes with and without sensorimotor polyneuropathy.

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy (CAN) in patients with diabetes is associated with poor prognosis. We aimed to assess signs of CAN and autonomic symptoms and to investigate the impact of sensorimotor neuropathy on CAN by examining type 2 diabetes patients with (DPN [distal sensorimotor polyneuropathy]) and without distal sensorimotor polyneuropathy (noDPN) and healthy controls (HC). Secondarily, we aimed to describe the characteristics of patients with CAN.

METHODS: A population of 374 subjects from a previously described cohort of the Danish Centre for Strategic Research in Type 2 Diabetes (DD2) were included. Subjects were examined with the Vagus™ device for the diagnosis of CAN, where two or more abnormal cardiovascular autonomic reflex tests indicate definite CAN. Autonomic symptoms were assessed with Composite Autonomic Symptom Score 31 (COMPASS 31) questionnaire. DPN was defined according to the Toronto consensus panel definition.

RESULTS: Definite CAN was present in 22% with DPN, 7% without DPN and 3% of HC, and 91% of patients with definite CAN had DPN. Patients with DPN and definite CAN reported higher COMPASS 31 scores compared to patients with noDPN (20.0 vs. 8.3, p < 0.001) and no CAN (22.1 vs. 12.3, p = 0.01). CAN was associated with HbA1c and age in a multivariate logistic regression analysis but was not associated with IEFND or triglycerides.

INTERPRETATION: One in five patients with DPN have CAN and specific CAN characteristics may help identify patients at risk for developing this severe diabetic complication. Autonomic symptoms were strongly associated with having both DPN and CAN, but too unspecific for diagnosing CAN.

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