This study aimed to assess the impact of diabetic retinopathy (DR) severity on the incidence of major adverse cardiac events (MACE) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in T1D patients. Patients diagnosed with T1D between 1999 and 2013 were identified from patient-level data of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research database. A total of 1135 patients were included and classified into mild DR (n = 454), severe DR (n = 227), or non-DR (n = 454) by using propensity score matching. Multi-state model analyses, an extension of competing risk models with adjustment for transition-specific covariates for prediction of subsequent MACE and ESRD, were performed. MACE and ESRD risks were significantly higher in the severe DR patients; a 2.97-fold (1.73, 5.07) and 12.29-fold (6.50, 23.23) increase in the MACE risk among the severe DR patients compared to the mild DR and DR-free patients, respectively; and, a 5.91-fold (3.50, 9.99) and 82.31-fold (29.07, 233.04) greater ESRD risk of severe DR patients than that of the mild DR and DR-free groups, respectively (p < 0.001). Severity of DR was significantly associated with the late diabetes-related vascular events (i.e., MACE, ESRD) among T1D patients.
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