Aims To determine the prevalence of the complications of diabetes and the interrelationship between them within a United Kingdom district health authority population.
Methods Data extracted from a general practice diabetes audit were combined with data for patients with diabetes derived from a patient index constructed using record linkage techniques.
Results A total of 10 709 patients were identified as having diabetes (prevalence 2.47%). Coronary heart disease was present in 25.2%, cerebrovascular disease in 9.6%, complications of the ‘diabetic foot’ in 18.1%, retinopathy in 16.5% and nephropathy in 2.0%. Over a half of the patients (52.1%) had none of the studied complications, 30.2% had one, 12.7% had two, 4.1% had three, 0.8% had four and 0.1% had all five. All complications were related to both age and duration of diabetes but duration was particularly apparent for the microvascular complications (retinopathy and nephropathy). Macrovascular complications in the Type 2 diabetic population appear advanced in onset compared with Type 1.
Conclusions Multiple complications are apparent in almost one fifth of patients with diabetes. Macrovascular morbidity in Type 2 diabetes of early onset indicates that a targeted approach to treatment may prove most beneficial in both patient and health service terms.