Chronic hyperglycemia is the main risk factor for the development of diabetes-related complications in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but it is thought that frequent or large glucose fluctuations may contribute independently to diabetes-related complications. A systematic literature review was performed using the PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane Library databases with searches limited to studies published from June 2002 to March 2014, in English and including ≥50 patients. Twenty eight articles were included in the final review. Eighteen studies reported the association between glucose variability and diabetes-related complications exclusively in type 2 diabetes. A positive association between increased variability and microvascular complications and coronary artery disease was consistently reported. Associations between glucose variability and other macrovascular complications were inconsistent in type 2 diabetes. Seven studies examined the association between glucose variability and complications exclusively in type 1 diabetes. Increased glucose variability appears to play a minimal role in the development of micro- and macrovascular complications in type 1 diabetes. Consistent findings suggest that in type 2 diabetes glucose variability is associated with development of microvascular complications. The role of increased glucose variability in terms of microvascular and macrovascular complications in type 1 diabetes is less clear; more data in are needed.
Keywords: Glycemic variability; Macrovascular complications; Microvascular complications.
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