Clinicians caring for middle-aged patients with visual disability—especially in women and those with diabetes and hypertension—should keep the patient’s heart in mind. New data suggests they may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular events such as heart failure and ischemic vascular disease.

Researchers in Taiwan recently conducted a population-based study of patients between the ages of 35 and 65 to explore the possible link between visual impairment and cardiovascular events. They recruited 978 patients with visual disability and 4,677 controls. Participants had an independently higher risk of cardiovascular events during the 13-year study period, with an adjusted hazard ratio range of 1.31 to 2.75.            

Women in particular carried a higher risk for each of the four categories of cardiovascular events defined by the study, while men had an increased risk for one. Patients with other risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension also were at higher risk.

Given these findings, the researchers call for a program to address cardiovascular event prevention in this patient population, which is particularly important for women and those with diabetes and hypertension.

Hsueh CM, Wey JH, Yeh JS, et al. Incidence and risk of major heart diseases in middle-aged adults with moderate to severe vision impairment: a population-based cohort study. Ophthalmology. September 10, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].