Diabetes mellitus is a major cardiovascular risk factor and its prevalence has been increasing globally. This review examines the contributions of the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis), a diverse American cohort (6,814 adults ages 45 to 84, recruited from 2000 to 2002, 50% female, 62% nonwhite) toward understanding the relationship between diabetes and clinical and subclinical cardiovascular disease. People with diabetes have a high burden of subclinical vascular disease as measured by coronary artery calcification (CAC), carotid artery intima-media thickness, valvular calcification, and alterations in left ventricular structure. CAC substantially improves cardiovascular risk prediction. Among adults with diabetes, 63% had CAC >0; above CAC >400 Agatston units the event rate was 4% annually, whereas an absence of CAC was a marker of a very low cardiovascular disease rate (0.4% to 0.1% annually). These stark differences in rates may have implications for screening and/or targeted prevention efforts based on CAC burden. MESA has also provided insight on diabetes epidemiology.
Diabetes is strongly associated with incident coronary artery calcium and with progression in the amount of coronary artery calcium.
Coronary artery calcium can be used to improve the prediction of incident cardiovascular disease among adults with diabetes.
Diabetes remains an independent risk factor for incident cardiovascular disease, even after accounting for the increased burden of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Inflammatory markers, ethnic-specific waist circumference thresholds, depression, and neighborhood characteristics are associated with incident diabetes.