Background: Glycemic variability is a possible risk factor for development of complications from diabetes. Numerous methods have been used to characterize glycemic variability.
Methods: We propose several new methods to characterize glycemic variability. We evaluated these methods empirically and theoretically and compared them with previous methods.
Results: We describe (1) extension and generalization of the mean amplitude of glycemic excursion (MAGE), i.e., "within day variability," (2) extension and generalization of the mean of daily differences (MODD), i.e., the "between day-within time points variability," (3) "between daily means variability," (4) "between time points variability" of the glucose profile averaged over several days, (5) "within series variability" for a time segment of any arbitrary length, (6) new measures of the stability of the daily glycemic patterns, (7) new types of graphical displays, including within day variability, between day-within time points variability, and between daily means variability versus total variability, and between daily means variability versus within day variability, and (8) new methods to evaluate whether within series and between day-within time points variability fluctuate systematically by time of day. We examined the new measures in relation to previous measures of glycemic variability using correlation analysis on a clinical dataset for 85 subjects. MAGE, MODD, and continuous overall net glycemic action (CONGA(n)) are directly proportional to total standard deviation (SD). MAGE is highly correlated with both total SD and within day variability but weakly correlated with measures of between day variability. MODD is highly correlated with between day-within time points variability and total SD but weakly correlated with measures of within day variability.
Conclusions: We provide a systematic, logical framework to characterize multiple aspects of glycemic variability and have implemented a simple, practical computing format. This approach can help clinical researchers and clinicians identify the major sources of variability for any given patient and monitor responses to interventions.