Glucose intolerance, physical signs of peripheral artery disease, and risk of cardiovascular events: The Framingham Study

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Diabetes and peripheral artery disease (PAD) are acknowledge hallmarks of development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD). The prognostic implications of physical indicators of PAD, compared with and in conjunction with glucose intolerance based on population based data, are not well documented.

Methods and Results

The influence of carotid and femoral bruits and nonpalpable pedal pulses, with and without glucose intolerance, on development of coronary disease (CHD), congestive heart failure (CHF), and stroke (CVA) was investigated in a cohort of 1672 men and 2264 women ages 47 to 99 years participating in the Framingham Study. Cross-sectional pooling yielded 29,063 2-year person-examination units based on the sample of whom 440 men and 484 women had glucose intolerance develop. Over the 26 years of follow-up, 210 men and 199 women had 1 or more of the specified CVD events. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate age-adjusted odds ratios comparing incidence of CVD events in subjects with glucose intolerance, signs of PAD, or both conditions with those with neither condition. Glucose intolerance was associated with a 2-fold excess occurrence of physical signs of PAD (P < .01). Femoral and carotid bruits were generally associated with greater increased risk of CHD, CHF, and CVA than was glucose intolerance alone. Particularly in women, the concomitant presence of bruits augmented the CVD risk of glucose intolerance. Nonpalpable pedal pulses were a stronger risk factor for CVD end points than glucose intolerance; particularly in men and in both sexes, those with both conditions were at substantially greater risk of CVD events than those with either alone.


Physical findings of PAD appear to signify a compromised arterial circulation to the heart and brain as well as the limbs in persons with glucose intolerance. Persons with the combination are candidates at high risk for CHD, CHF, and CVA.

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