Background: We aimed at identifying variables predicting hypoglycemia in elderly type 2 diabetic patients and the relation to HbA1c values achieved.
Design: Prospective, observational registry in 3810 patients in primary care. Comparison of patients in different age tertiles: with an age < 60 (young, n=1,253), age 60 to < 70 (middle aged, n=1,184) to those ≥ 70 years (elderly, n=1,373). Odds Ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were determined from univariable and multivariable regression analyses.
Results: Elderly patients had a later diabetes diagnosis, a longer diabetes duration, better glucose control and more frequent co-morbid disease conditions. Overall 10.7% of patients experienced any severity hypoglycemia within the last 12 months prior to inclusion. Higher rates of hypoglycemia were observed in the elderly than in the young after adjusting for differences in HbA1c, fasting and post-prandial blood glucose (OR 1.68; 95%CI 1.16-2.45). This was particularly true for hypoglycemic episodes without specific symptoms (OR 1.74; 95%CI 1.05-2.89). In a multivariate model stroke / transitory ischemic attack, the presence of heart failure, clinically relevant depression, sulfonylurea use and blood glucose self-measurement were associated with hypoglycemic events.
Conclusion: Elderly patients are at an increased risk of hypoglycemia even at comparable glycemic control. Therefore identified variables associated with hypoglycemia in the elderly such as heart failure, clinically relevant depression, the use of sulfonylurea help to optimize the balance between glucose control and low levels of hypoglycemia. Asymptomatic hypoglycemia should not be disregarded as irrelevant but considered as a sign of possible hypoglycemia associated autonomic failure.