Background: Post-transplant diabetes (PTDM) is a common and serious complication of kidney transplantation. The implications of developing hyperglycemia of lesser severity are not well understood.
Methods: In this study we used American Diabetes Association (ADA) criteria to assess the incidence of abnormal glycemia post-transplant, the variables that relate to this complication, and the relationship between hyperglycemia and cardiovascular (CV) disease. Included in the study were 490 kidney recipients, transplanted from 1998 to 2003, without a history of diabetes, and with a pretransplant fasting glucose <126 mg/dL.
Results: Within one week post-transplant, 45% of recipients had impaired fasting glycemia (IFG, glucose 100-125 mg/dL), and 21% PTDM (glucose > or =126). One year post-transplant, 33% of patients had IFG, and 13% PTDM. Risk factors for hyperglycemia at one year included: older recipient, male gender, higher BMI, higher pretransplant glucose, and higher glucose one week post-transplant (all P < 0.002 by multivariable analyses). During a follow-up period of 40 +/- 14 months, 12% of recipients had CV events (cardiac, CVA, and/or peripheral). Increasing fasting glucose levels at one, four, and/or 12 months post-transplant were significantly related to CV events. Furthermore, these relationships were independent of other CV risk factors, including: older age, CV events pretransplant, male gender, dyslipidemia, and transplant year. Fasting glucose levels >100 mg/dL were associated with higher incidence of post-transplant cardiac (P= 0.001) and peripheral vascular disease events (P= 0.003).
Conclusion: The incidence of post-transplant hyperglycemia and its CV impact have been underestimated. Pretransplant characteristics and, particularly, the glycemia during the first month post-transplant identified patients at risk of PTDM. Increasing glucose levels greater than 100 mg/dL, any time after the first month post-transplant, are associated with increasing CV risk. We postulate that aggressive detection and treatment of post-transplant hyperglycemia may significantly reduce CV morbidity and mortality after kidney transplantation.