Peripheral neuropathy (PN) is associated with mortality, even among individuals without diabetes, according to a study published online Dec. 8 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Caitlin W. Hicks, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the associations between PN and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in a prospective cohort study involving 7,116 U.S. adults aged 40 years and older with standardized monofilament testing for PN.
The researchers found that the overall prevalence of PN was 13.5 ± 0.5 percent; prevalence was 27.0 ± 1.4 and 11.6 ± 0.5 percent in adults with and without diabetes, respectively. Overall, 2,128 adults died during a median follow-up of 13 years, including 488 who died of cardiovascular causes. Per 1,000 person-years, the incidence rates of all-cause mortality were 57.6, 34.3, 27.1, and 13.0 in adults with diabetes and PN, adults with PN but no diabetes, adults with diabetes but no PN, and adults with no diabetes and no PN, respectively. In adjusted models, in participants with diabetes, PN was significantly associated with all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality (hazard ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 1.49 [1.15 to 1.94] and 1.66 [1.07 to 2.57], respectively). PN was significantly associated with all-cause mortality in those without diabetes (hazard ratio, 1.31; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.15 to 1.50); after adjustment, the association between PN and cardiovascular mortality was no longer statistically significant (hazard ratio, 1.27; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.98 to 1.66).
“These findings suggest that decreased sensation in the foot may be an underrecognized risk factor for death in the general population,” the authors write.