OBJECTIVE--To determine the influence of insulin dependent diabetes on the prevalence of myocardial ischaemia and on global left ventricular systolic performance. DESIGN--Stress treadmill electrocardiograms and simultaneous Doppler measurement of aortic maximum acceleration were obtained during exercise on symptom free subjects. The electrocardiograms were scored blindly according to the Minnesota code. PARTICIPANTS--39 identical twin pairs (22 male) discordant for insulin dependent diabetes and 39 non-diabetic controls of similar age and sex were examined. The twins and controls had a mean age of 37 (range 25-69) with a mean (SD) duration of diabetes in the diabetic twin of 17 (7) years. Those selected were normotensive and had no renal impairment. RESULTS--Systolic blood pressure was significantly higher in the diabetic twins than in their non-diabetic cotwins both at rest (p < 0.05) and at peak exercise (p < 0.01). Electrocardiographic evidence of ischaemia was not correlated within twin pairs and was found in similar numbers of diabetic twins, their non-diabetic cotwins, and control subjects. Abnormal electrocardiograms were found in a similar number of diabetic twins (23%), non-diabetic cotwins (18%), and controls (15%). There was a significant correlation in Doppler measurements of global left ventricular systolic function within the identical twins; no significant difference was found for these Doppler measurements in the diabetic twins, non-diabetic cotwins, or controls. CONCLUSION--Exercise characteristics and cardiac function seem to be subject to shared genetic or shared environmental influences or both, whereas electrocardiographic features of ischaemia seem to be environmentally determined. In a selected cohort of diabetic identical twins without evidence of nephropathy there was no evidence that diabetes influenced the prevalence of myocardial ischaemia or global left ventricular systolic function.
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