CAD Linked to Macular Degeneration in Veterans

LEXINGTON, KY — VA clinicians should co-screen for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and systemic vascular disease, according to a new study.

The report, published recently in the Southern Medical Journal, notes that, although AMD — the leading cause of blindness in the United States — shares multiple risk factors with coronary artery disease (CAD), the association between AMD and CAD has not been established.1

University of Kentucky researchers sought to demonstrate an association between the diagnosis of AMD and CAD and/or major cardiovascular risk factors, using a retrospective chart review of more than 13,000 patients at the Lexington VAMC.

For the study, patients diagnosed as having AMD served as cases, and patients diagnosed with cataract and no AMD served as controls.

Overall, 3,950 patients with AMD and 9,166 controls were identified. Patients with AMD were an average of six years older than controls and had a significantly higher prevalence of CAD (39% vs. 34%) and hypertension (88% vs. 83%). Their incidence of diabetes mellitus and smoking was lower, however.

Results indicate that the estimated odds ratio relating CAD to AMD was 1.22. The association between CAD and AMD remained significant in multivariate analyses in patients 76 years and older, according to study authors.

The association between CAD and AMD remained significant after a secondary analysis, which matched the AMD and non-AMD groups based on age — 39.4% with CAD in the AMD group vs. 36.6% in the non-AMD group.

“These findings support the existence of an association between CAD and AMD, particularly in older adult patients in the predominantly male Veterans Affairs population,” study authors concluded. “Such an association between AMD and systemic vascular disease justifies the potential co-screening for these conditions.”

1 Thomas J, Mohammad S, Charnigo R, Baffi J, Abdel-Latif A, Ziada KM. Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Coronary Artery Disease in a VA Population. South Med J. 2015 Aug;108(8):502-6. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000329. PubMed PMID: 26280780; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4544738.

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