Science News: Cardiovascular Health and Chronic Axonal Polyneuropathy: A Population-based Study

Published September 21, 2021

Education Science News

Submitted by: Shan Chen, MD
Edited by: Pritikanta Paul, MD

Taams NE, Ahmadizar F, Hanewinckel R, et al. Cardiovascular health and chronic axonal polyneuropathy: A population-based study. Eur J Neurol. 2021;28(6):2046-2053. doi:10.1111/ene.14777

Summary: The authors in this study investigated participants of the Rotterdam Study between June 2013 and January 2017, and screened them for polyneuropathy categorized as having no, possible, probable or definite polyneuropathy. The cardiovascular health score (higher score reflecting better health) was assigned based on health factors (blood pressure, serum cholesterol and fasting glucose level) and health behaviors (diet, physical activity, smoking and body mass index). They used three components for neuropathy screening: a symptom-based questionnaire, neurological examination of the legs, and nerve conduction studies of the sural nerves (and sural SNAP amplitude <4.0 µV was considered abnormal).

Among 1919 participants, 120 (6.3%) had definite polyneuropathy. The median age was 69.0 (58.6-73.7) years and 53.4% were women. A higher cardiovascular health score was associated with a lower prevalence of definite polyneuropathy. Optimal cardiovascular health (score≥10) was strongly associated with a lower prevalence of definite polyneuropathy (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.32-0.90). An increase in health factors and health behavior scores separately was associated with a lower prevalence of polyneuropathy. The association between a lower cardiovascular health score and lower sural nerve amplitude was not significant after correction for covariates).

Comments: This large population-based study demonstrated that better cardiovascular health, consisting of both modifiable health behaviors and health factors, is associated with a lower prevalence of chronic axonal polyneuropathy. Interestingly, the results were not merely driven by diabetes mellitus or alcohol intake, the commonly known risk factors for polyneuropathy.

Article of Similar Interest: Callaghan BC, Xia R, Reynolds E, et al. Association between metabolic syndrome components and polyneuropathy in an obese population. JAMA Neurol. 2016;73(12):1468-1476. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.3745