A prospective cohort study found that peripheral neuropathy, or decreased sensation in the foot, could be an unrecognised and independent risk factor for death.
The condition was found to be common in the US population, even in the absence of diabetes. The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied 7,116 adults aged 40 or older who had standardised monofilament testing for peripheral neuropathy to assess association with peripheral neuropathy and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in the general population.
They found that the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy was 27% in those with diabetes and 11.6% in those without, equal to 35 million adults based on the 2010 US Census.
The condition was associated with both all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in adults with and without diabetes, and these associations persisted even after adjustment for prevalent cardiovascular disease and other risk factors.
According to the researchers, these findings suggest that decreased sensation in the foot may be an important risk factor for death in the general population.