OBJECTIVE Although low HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) is an established risk factor for atherosclerosis, data on HDL-C and the risk of microvascular disease are limited. We tested the association between HDL-C and microvascular disease in a cohort of patients with type 2 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS A total of 11,140 patients with type 2 diabetes and at least one additional vascular risk factor were followed a median of 5 years. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess the association between baseline HDL-C and the development of new or worsening microvascular disease, defined prospectively as a composite of renal and retinal events.
RESULTS The mean baseline HDL-C level was 1.3 mmol/L (SD 0.45 mmol/L [range 0.1–4.0]). During follow-up, 32% of patients developed new or worsening microvascular disease, with 28% experiencing a renal event and 6% a retinal event. Compared with patients in the highest third, those in the lowest third had a 17% higher risk of microvascular disease (adjusted hazard ratio 1.17 [95% CI 1.06–1.28], P = 0.001) after adjustment for potential confounders and regression dilution. This was driven by a 19% higher risk of renal events (1.19 [1.08–1.32], P = 0.0005). There was no association between thirds of HDL-C and retinal events (1.01 [0.82–1.25], P = 0.9).
CONCLUSIONS In patients with type 2 diabetes, HDL-C level is an independent risk factor for the development of microvascular disease affecting the kidney but not the retina.
- Received February 12, 2012.
- Accepted May 2, 2012.
- © 2012 by the American Diabetes Association.
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