Relation Between Different Measures of Glycemic Exposure and Microvascular and Macrovascular Complications in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: An Observational Cohort Study

Rients P.T. van Wijngaarden, Jetty A. Overbeek, Edith M. Heintjes, Agata Schubert, Joris Diels, Huub Straatman, Ewout W. Steyerberg, Ron M.C. Herings

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Introduction: This retrospective cohort study investigated the relation between different measures of glycemic exposure and micro- and macrovascular complications among patients with type 2 diabetes. Methods: The analysis included patients receiving oral antihyperglycemic agents between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2014 from the General Practitioner Database from the PHARMO Database Network. All recorded HbA1c levels during follow-up were used to express glycemic exposure in four ways: index HbA1c, time-dependent HbA1c, exponential moving average (EMA) and glycemic burden. Association between glycemic exposure and micro-/macrovascular complications was analyzed by estimating hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals using an adjusted (time-dependent) Cox proportional hazards model. Results: The analysis included 32,725 patients (median age, 65 years; 47% female). Median follow-up was 5.4 years; median number of HbA1c measurements per patient was 18.0. From all measures, HbA1c at index showed the weakest relation between all micro-/macrovascular complications, with coronary artery disease (CAD) having the highest HR (95% CI): 1.18 (1.04–1.34) for HbA1c ≥64 mmol/mol (8%). The time-dependent HbA1c model showed a significant association only for microvascular complications, with retinopathy having the highest HR (95% CI): 1.55 (1.40–1.73) for HbA1c ≥64 mmol/mol (8%). EMA-defined exposure showed similar findings, although the effect of retinopathy was more pronounced [HR (95% CI): 1.81 (1.63–2.02) for HbA1c ≥64 mmol/mol (8%)] and was also predictive for CAD [HR (95% CI): 1.29 (1.10–1.50) for HbA1c ≥64 mmol/mol (8%)]. A statistically significant relation with glycemic burden was found for all selected micro-/macrovascular complications, with retinopathy having the highest HR (95%): 2.60 (2.19–3.07) for glycemic burden years >3. Conclusion: This study shows that greater and more prolonged exposure to hyperglycemia increases the risk of micro- and macrovascular complications. Funding: Janssen Pharmaceutica NV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1109
Number of pages13
JournalDiabetes Therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Glycemic burden
  • Macrovascular
  • Microvascular
  • Type 2 diabetes

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