We aimed at comprehensively evaluate the independent association of diabetes and its duration with incident abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and aortic diameter.
We prospectively studied incident AAA according to baseline glycemic status (diabetes, prediabetes, normal glycemia) in 13,116 ARIC participants (1990-1992) and the time-varying exposure of duration post incident diabetes in 11,675 participants (1987-1989) using Cox models. Additionally, we cross-sectionally explored ultrasound-based abdominal aortic diameter by glycemic status and cumulative duration of diabetes in 4710 participants (2011-2013) using linear regression models. Over ~20 years of follow-up, diabetes (vs. normal glycemia) at baseline was independently associated with lower AAA risk (489 cases) (hazard ratio: 0.71 [95%CI 0.51-0.99]), especially after 10 years (hazard ratio: 0.58 [0.38-0.87]). Prediabetes did not demonstrate an independent association. The inverse association was more evident with longer duration of diabetes (p for trend = 0.045), with 30-50% lower risk in eight years after diabetes diagnosis. The cross-sectional analysis demonstrated smaller aortic diameters with longer duration of diabetes (e.g., -0.76 mm [-1.24, -0.28] in diabetes with 8-12 years) compared to non-diabetes, whereas prediabetes consistently showed nominally greater diameter.
Diabetes, especially with longer duration, but not prediabetes, was independently associated with lower risk of AAA and smaller aortic diameter. Our findings suggest that long lasting clinical hyperglycemia plays an important role in the reduced AAA risk, and the reduced aortic diameter may be a structural mechanism behind this paradoxical association.

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