Methods: Patients with type 2 diabetes (N = 94) and low vascular risk underwent assessment of cardiovascular risk and CMR assessment of ascending aortic distensibility (AAD), descending aortic distensibility (DAD) and aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV). Of these patients a subgroup with recent onset microalbuminuria (N = 25) were treated with renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibition and imaging repeated after 1 year. All 94 patients were followed up for 2.4 years for major adverse cardiovascular disease (CVD) events including myocardial infarction detected on late gadolinium enhancement CMR.
Results: Ascending aortic distensibility, DAD and PWV all had a significant association with age and 24 h systolic blood pressure but only AAD had a significant association with glycaemic control, measured as HbA1c (Beta − 0.016, P = 0.04). The association between HbA1c and AAD persisted even after correction for age and hypertension. CVD events occurred in 19/94 patients. AAD, but not DAD or PWV, was associated with CVD events (hazard ratio 0.49, 95% confidence interval 0.25–0.95, P = 0.01). On treatment with RAAS inhibition, AAD, but not DAD or PWV, showed significant improvement from 1.51 ± 1.15 to 1.97 ± 1.07 10−3 mmHg−1, P = 0.007.
Conclusions: Ascending aortic distensibility measured by CMR is independently associated with poor glycaemic control and adverse cardiovascular events. Furthermore it may be reversible on treatment with RAAS inhibition. AAD is a promising marker of cardiovascular risk in asymptomatic patients with type 2 diabetes and has potential use as a surrogate cardiovascular endpoint in studies of novel hypoglycaemic agents.