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Source: United Press International,Thursday, September 29, 2005

ROCHESTER, Minn., Sep 29, 2005  — Mayo Clinic researchers report subtle change in nerve conduction is the first reliable sign of nerve complications from diabetes.

The researchers said that change can be measured long before other symptoms or signs of nerve damage develop.

“We’ve found what we believe is the earliest sign of nerve change due to diabetes,” said Dr. Peter Dyck, a neurologist and lead researcher on the study. “Changes begin much earlier than previously demonstrated.”

About 500 patients participated in the longitudinal study, many for 20 years. Patients agreed to periodic measures of their diabetes and of nerve, eye, kidney and blood vessel complications.

About half of people with diabetes develop some type of neuropathy caused indirectly by high blood sugar levels. Symptoms can include pain, tingling, burning and loss of feeling. Serious complications include foot ulcers, amputations and blindness.

In the study, researchers used various techniques to measure nerve changes, but they said nerve conduction tests provided the most consistent and reliable measures.

“Even when patients had nerve conduction values well within the normal range, our serial assessments showed steady, unequivocal and statistically significant worsening,” said Dyck.

The study appears in the September issue of Diabetes Care.