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Association between hemoglobin A1c variability and hypoglycemia-related hospitalizations in veterans with diabetes mellitus.

Zhao MJY, Prentice JC, Mohr DC, Conlin PR. Association between hemoglobin A1c variability and hypoglycemia-related hospitalizations in veterans with diabetes mellitus. BMJ open diabetes research & care. 2021 Jan 1; 9(1).

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INTRODUCTION: To study the impact of hemoglobin A1c (A1c) variability on the risk of hypoglycemia-related hospitalization (HRH) in veterans with diabetes mellitus. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: 342?059 veterans with diabetes aged 65 years or older were identified for a retrospective cohort study. All participants had a 3-year baseline period from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2016, during which they had at least four A1c tests. A1c variability measures included coefficient of variation (A1c CV), A1c SD, and adjusted A1c SD. HRH was identified during a 2-year follow-up period from Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration through validated algorithms of International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9 and ICD-10 codes. Logistic regression modeling was used to evaluate the relationship between A1c variability and HRH risk while controlling for relevant clinical covariates. RESULTS: 2871 patients had one or more HRH in the 2-year follow-up period. HRH risk increased with greater A1c variability, and this was consistent across A1c CV, A1c SD, and adjusted A1c SD. Average A1c levels were also independently associated with HRH, with levels < 7.0% (53 mmol/mol) having lower risk and > 9% (75 mmol/mol) with greater risk. The relationships between A1c variability remained significant after controlling for average A1c levels and prior HRH during the baseline period. CONCLUSION: Increasing A1c variability and elevated A1c levels are associated with a greater risk of HRH in older adults with diabetes. Clinicians should consider A1c variability when assessing patients for risk of severe hypoglycemia.

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