Is A1C Variability an Independent Predictor for the Progression of Atherosclerosis in Type 2 Diabetic Patients?

Korean Diabetes J. 2010 Jun;34(3):174-81. doi: 10.4093/kdj.2010.34.3.174. Epub 2010 Jun 30.


Background: Little is known about the relative contribution of long-term glycemic variability to the risk of macrovascular complications in type 2 diabetes. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of A1C variability on the progression of carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) in type 2 diabetic patients.

Methods: Among type 2 diabetic patients who visited Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital from March 2007 to September 2009, 120 patients who had carotid artery IMT measured annually and A1C checked every three months for at least one year were analyzed. Individual A1C variability was defined as the standard deviation (SD) of five A1C levels taken every three months for approximately one year. Change in IMT was defined as an increase in IMT on follow-up measurement. The association between the SD of A1C and changes in IMT was evaluated.

Results: With greater A1C variability, there was a greater increase in the mean IMT (r = 0.350, P < 0.001) of the carotid artery. After adjusting for confounding factors that may influence IMT, A1C variability was significantly associated with the progression of IMT (r = 0.222, P = 0.034). However, the SD of A1C was not a significant independent risk factor for the progression of IMT in multiple regression analysis (beta = 0.158, P = 0.093).

Conclusion: Higher A1C variability is associated with IMT progression in type 2 diabetic patients; however, it is not an independent predictor of IMT progression. Overall glycemic control is the most important factor in the progression of IMT.

Keywords: Carotid atherosclerosis; Diabetes mellitus, type 2; Glycemic variability.