In recent years the benefits of more intensive management in preventing or delaying the development and progression of diabetic complications have been well documented. What is not as well documented is how to motivate the person with diabetes to manage the condition, how to set, assess and quantify glucose goals, and the glucose variables that should be routinely measured. This review discusses the importance of setting targets and communicating them in a way that the patient understands. When aiming for a glycaemia target, balance is required (1) between achieving reduction of complications and causing an increased degree of hypoglycaemia, and (2) between what is achievable and what degree of benefit is gained. Target values given in guidelines should be adapted by the clinician to take into account the patient's susceptibility to hypoglycaemia, stage and type of complications, age and life expectancy, co-morbidity, social environment, understanding of the steps required and level of commitment to the treatment. Several suggestions are given regarding possible improvements and amendments to existing guidelines for diabetes management in treating to glucose goal. For example, attention should be drawn to the need to individualize goals and to consider education, long-term support, patient needs and treatment outcome when formulating diabetes management plans. The relative properties of the different glucose variables-fasting plasma glucose (FPG), postprandial plasma glucose (PPG), glycated haemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)), and glycated protein-in terms of their convenience of measurement, usefulness and relevance to the physician and patient are also evaluated. When prioritising the variables to be measured it is suggested that where feasible, HbA(1c) should be the standard measurement by which to gauge risk and treatment efficacy. Serial measurements should be made and, where possible, the use of blood glucose meters encouraged, in order to obtain a blood glucose profile for the patient.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.