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Predictors of mortality in insulin dependent diabetes: 10 year observational follow up study

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 28 September 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:779
  1. Peter Rossing, research fellowa,
  2. Philip Hougaard, biostatisticianb,
  3. Knut Borch-Johnsen, chief physicianc,
  4. Hans-Henrik Parving, chief physiciana
  1. a Steno Diabetes Centre, DK 2820 Gentofte, Denmark
  2. b Novo Nordisk, Statistics HRT/CNS/GH, Health Care Development, Bagsvaerd, Denmark
  3. c Centre of Preventive Medicine, Medical Department C, Glostrup University Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Rossing.
  • Accepted 17 July 1996


Objective: To evaluate the prognostic significance of microalbuminuria and overt diabetic nephropathy and other putative risk factors for cardiovascular and all cause mortality in insulin dependent diabetes.

Design: Ten year observational follow up study.

Setting: Outpatient diabetic clinic in a tertiary referral centre.

Subjects: All 939 adults with insulin dependent diabetes (duration of diabetes five years or more) attending the clinic in 1984; 593 had normal urinary albumin excretion (</=30 mg/24 h), 181 persistent microalbuminuria (31-299 mg/24 h), and 165 overt nephropathy (>/=300 mg/24 h).

Main outcome measure: All cause and cardiovascular mortality.

Results: Fifteen per cent of patients (90/593) with normoalbuminuria, 25% (45/181) with microalbuminuria, and 44% (72/165) with overt nephropathy at baseline died during follow up. Cox multiple regression analysis identified the following significant predictors of all cause mortality: male sex (relative risk 2.03; 95% confidence interval 1.37 to 3.02), age (1.07; 1.06 to 1.08), height (0.96; 0.94 to 0.98), smoking (1.51; 1.09 to 2.08), social class V versus social class IV (1.70; 1.25 to 2.31), log10 urinary albumin excretion (1.45; 1.18 to 1.77), hypertension (1.63; 1.18 to 2.25), log10 serum creatinine concentration (8.96; 3.34 to 24.08), and haemoglobin A1c concentration (1.11; 1.03 to 1.20). Age, smoking, microalbuminuria, overt nephropathy, and hypertension were significant predictors of cardiovascular mortality. Mortality in patients with microalbuminuria was only slightly increased compared with that in patients with normoalbuminuria. Median survival time after the onset of overt diabetic nephropathy was 13.9 years (95% confidence interval 11.8 to 17.2 years).

Conclusions: Abnormally increased urinary albumin excretion and other potentially modifiable risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, poor glycaemic control, and social class predict increased mortality in insulin dependent diabetes. Microalbuminuria by itself confers only a small increase in mortality. The prognosis of patients with overt diabetic nephropathy has improved, probably owing to effective antihypertensive treatment.

Key messages

  • Microalbuminuria predicts increased mortality due to progression to overt nephropathy

  • Microalbuminuria by itself confers only a small increase in mortality after age 50

  • The prognosis in patients with insulin dependent diabetes complicated by nephropathy has improved, probably owing to treatment with antihypertensive agents


  • Funding None.

  • Conflict of interest None.

  • Accepted 17 July 1996
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