BACKGROUND: Intensive diabetes therapy aimed at achieving near normoglycemia reduces the risk of microvascular and neurologic complications of type 1 diabetes. We studied whether the use of intensive therapy as compared with conventional therapy during the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) affected the long-term incidence of cardiovascular disease. METHODS: The DCCT randomly assigned 1441 patients with type 1 diabetes to intensive or conventional therapy, treating them for a mean of 6.5 years between 1983 and 1993. Ninety-three percent were subsequently followed until February 1, 2005, during the observational Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications study. Cardiovascular disease (defined as nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, death from cardiovascular disease, confirmed angina, or the need for coronary-artery revascularization) was assessed with standardized measures and classified by an independent committee. RESULTS: During the mean 17 years of follow-up, 46 cardiovascular disease events occurred in 31 patients who had received intensive treatment in the DCCT, as compared with 98 events in 52 patients who had received conventional treatment. Intensive treatment reduced the risk of any cardiovascular disease event by 42 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 9 to 63 percent; P=0.02) and the risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease by 57 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 12 to 79 percent; P=0.02). The decrease in glycosylated hemoglobin values during the DCCT was significantly associated with most of the positive effects of intensive treatment on the risk of cardiovascular disease. Microalbuminuria and albuminuria were associated with a significant increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease, but differences between treatment groups remained significant (P≤0.05) after adjusting for these factors. CONCLUSIONS: Intensive diabetes therapy has long-term beneficial effects on the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 1 diabetes.
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