17th July 2012
Diabetes significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and both diseases represent a serious and escalating public health problem worldwide. The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study is a national prospective longitudinal study of 11,247 adult men and women. Data on all-cause and CVD mortality were obtained through data linkage with the National Death Index, and self-reported nonfatal CVD events were verified through medical record adjudication; the methods of which were validated with data linkage. Findings from AusDiab confirmed the strong association between previously diagnosed diabetes and early death and CVD. However, intermediate hyperglycaemia also plays an important role in the development of CVD, suggesting that CVD prevention strategies should not only target diabetes, but all levels of hyperglycaemia.
The impact of both diabetes and CVD is particularly detrimental in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The Darwin Region Urban Indigenous Diabetes (DRUID) study was started nine years ago to access the burden of diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and other health problems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in and around Darwin. Between 2003 and 2005, 1004 men and women volunteers aged =15 years underwent health examinations. Findings from DRUID have shown that diabetes and CVD risk factors are highly prevalent, and that non-traditional CVD risk factors may play an important role in the development of CVD in Indigenous people. While this data has been pivotal in characterising the potential risk of CVD in Indigenous people living in an urban setting, follow-up information on premature mortality, fatal and non-fatal CVD events and related conditions is required to assess the long term impact of the different CVD risk factors in this population. The plans for the DRUID follow-up study will be outlined.
Elizabeth Barr is a research fellow at Menzies School of Health Research and currently holds a NHMRC training (post doctoral) fellowship to investigate cardiovascular risk in high risk populations. Elizabeth previously worked as an epidemiologist at BakerIDI Heart and Diabetes Institute between 2004 and 2011, where she worked on the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). She undertook her PhD studies at Monash University, Victoria between 2006 and 2009