This study compares the cardiovascular autonomic function in type 2 diabetes with and without microalbuminuria, in order to identify the possible links between early nephropathy and diabetic autonomic neuropathy (DAN).
Cardiovascular reflex tests were performed to determine the cardiovascular autonomic function. Thirty cases of type 2 diabetes with microalbuminuria were studied for evidence of DAN to compare with a normoalbuminuric group of 56 diabetic patients.
There was an increased prevalence of autonomic dysfunction in patients with microalbuminuria (63.3% in the microalbuminuria group vs. 40.0% in the normoalbuminuric controls, p = 0.001). These patients had lower heart rate variability during single breathing tests (6.9 ± 4.3 vs. 9.6 ± 3.6 beats/minute, p = 0.005), during 6 consecutive breathings (5.8 ± 3.6 vs. 8.2 ± 3.3 beats/minute, p = 0.005), after standing up (12.2 ± 4.6 vs. 15.0 ± 5.2 beats/minute, p = 0.012), and during the Valsalva maneuver (11.3 ± 3.5 vs. 13.2 ± 3.6 beats/minute, p = 0.022). The heart rate variability with these stresses was revealed to be less favorable in subjects with microalbuminuria. However, blood pressure (BP) changes from the sitting to standing position were not significantly different for systolic BP (11.5 ± 10.7 vs. 10.7 ± 7.8 mmHg, p = 0.741) and diastolic BP (5.2 ± 4.4 vs. 5.9 ± 4.0 mmHg, p = 0.451) between the 2 groups.
Type 2 diabetic patients with microalbuminuria have diminished heart rate variability in response to deep breathing, change of position and the Valsalva maneuver, but they preserve BP response to postural change. Therefore, microalbuminuria seems to be associated with early DAN, but not with advanced DAN.