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Cardiovascular risk in the young type 1 diabetes population with a low 10-year, but high lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease


Correspondence to: Prof. Gary E. McVeigh, Centre for Vascular and Vision Science, School of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Clinical Science, Block A, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BA, Northern Ireland, UK.



Diabetes mellitus is associated with excess cardiovascular mortality that is evident in all age groups, but is most pronounced in young people with type 1 diabetes. Cardiovascular risk estimation models generally estimate the probability of future events over a 10-year time horizon. Due to the dependency on age, children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes would be considered at low short-term risk but high life-time risk of developing a cardiovascular event. Guidelines recommend screening particularly for microvascular complications including nephropathy and retinopathy beginning around puberty. Identification of early microvascular abnormalities in children and adolescents not only predict later development of long-term microvascular complications and further end-organ damage but are associated with an increased risk for future macrovascular events. This may be because of the fact that the same glycaemic mechanisms responsible for the occurrence of microvascular disease may also apply to the development of atherosclerosis. Alternatively, interventions that reduce the development of microvascular end-organ damage may also delay the development of associated macrovascular disease. Screening for subclinical atherosclerosis, especially in the coronary and carotid vessels, has been advocated as a means of detecting early atherosclerotic disease in asymptomatic individuals with the aim of potentially reclassifying cardiovascular risk and guiding therapeutic interventions. Currently there is no randomized clinical trial evidence that additional screening using non-invasive imaging techniques alters cardiovascular disease outcomes. We do not know the best approach or combination of approaches to assess risk and reduce cardiovascular disease burden in type 1 diabetes mellitus. All screening interventions carry harms as well as benefits and until further evidence becomes available additional screening using non-invasive imaging tests for the detection of subclinical atherosclerosis cannot be currently recommended for patients with type 1 diabetes.