(HealthDay News) – Cardiac autonomic dysfunction as measured by lower heart rate variability (HRV) is associated with increases in both central and vascular vascular stiffness among youths with type 1 diabetes regardless of underlying cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, according to research published online Feb. 22 in Diabetes Care.

Mamta Jaiswal, MBBS, PhD, of the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, and colleagues conducted a sub-study to the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study to explore the associations between reduced HRV and increased arterial stiffness (AS) in 344 youth with type 1 diabetes and 171 youth without.

According to the researchers, in youths with type 1 diabetes, lower HRV, as measured by SD of normal R-R interval (SDNN), was associated with lower brachial distensibility (BrachD), a marker of peripheral AS (P=0.01), and higher pulse wave velocity in the carotid to femoral segment (PWV-trunk) (P=0.0001), as well as a higher augmentation index adjusted for heart rate of 75 beats per min (AIx75), (P=0.007), markers for central AS. Adjustment for CVD risk factors attenuated these associations, except for BrachD and PWV-trunk. Although a similar association was observed between HRV and BrachD in youth controls, lower HRV was not associated with higher PWV-trunk and AIx75.

“We found a strong association between cardiac autonomic dysfunction and both central and peripheral AS in youth with type 1 diabetes, independent of traditional CVD risk factors,” the authors write. “While lower HRV was also associated with increased peripheral stiffness in non-diabetic control youth, the association with central stiffness may be unique to individuals with type 1 diabetes. This association may contribute to the increased and premature cardiovascular disease burden in people with type 1 diabetes.”

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