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In T2DM Patients, Anemia Tied to Diabetic Retinopathy

Association appears to be mediated by decline in serum bilirubin levels

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) — In patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, anemia is associated with the development of diabetic retinopathy, according to a study published in the October issue of Medicine.

Jin Ook Chung, M.D., Ph.D., from Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea, and colleagues evaluated the association between anemia (hemoglobin level <120 g/L in women and <130 g/L in men) and diabetic retinopathy in 1,637 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The researchers found that anemia was more prevalent in individuals with diabetic retinopathy. After adjusting for traditional risk factors (e.g., diabetes duration, body mass index, glycated hemoglobin, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension), there was a statistically significant association between anemia and diabetic retinopathy (odds ratio, 1.44; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.10 to 1.89; P = 0.009). However, the association was no longer significant after further adjustment for serum bilirubin levels (odds ratio, 1.30; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.98 to 1.72; P = 0.074).

“Our study shows a positive relationship between anemia and diabetic retinopathy in individuals with type 2 diabetes, which might be partly attributed to a correlated decline in total serum bilirubin levels,” the authors write. “Further prospective investigations are necessary to explore the causal associations among anemia, bilirubin, and diabetic retinopathy.”

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