Control of glycemia and blood pressure in British adults with diabetes mellitus and subsequent therapy choices: a comparison across health states

Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2018 Feb 12;17(1):27. doi: 10.1186/s12933-018-0673-4.


Background: To examine the intensity of glycemic and blood pressure control in British adults with diabetes mellitus and whether control levels or treatment deintensification rates differ across health states.

Methods: Retrospective cohort study using primary care electronic medical records (the United Kingdom Health Improvement Network Database) for adults with diabetes diagnosed at least 6 months before the index HbA1C and systolic blood pressure (SBP) measurements (to give their primary care physicians time to achieve treatment goals). We used prescribing records for 6 months pre/post the index measurements to determine who had therapy subsequently deintensified (based on "glycemic therapy score" and "antihypertensive therapy score" derived from number and dosage of medications).

Results: Of 292,170 individuals with diabetes, HbA1C < 6% or SBP < 120 mmHg after at least 6 months of management was less common in otherwise fit patients (15.0 and 12.7%) than in those who were mildly frail (16.6 and 13.2%) or moderately-severely frail (20.2 and 17.0%, both p < 0.0001). In the next 6 months, only 44.7% of those with HbA1C < 6% had glycemic therapy reduced (44.4% of fit, 47.1% of mildly frail, and 41.5% of moderate-severely frail patients) and 39.8% of those with SBP < 120 had their antihypertensives decreased (39.3% of fit, 43.0% of mildly frail, and 46.7% of moderate-severely frail patients). On the other hand, more individuals exhibited higher than recommended levels for HbA1C or SBP after the first 6 months of therapy (37.3, 33.4, and 31.3% of fit, mildly frail, and moderately-severely frail patients had HbA1C > 7.5% and 46.6, 51.4, and 48.5% had SBP > 140 mmHg). The proportions of patients with HbA1C or SBP out of recommended treatment ranges changed little 6 months later despite frequent (median 14 per year) primary care visits.

Conclusions: Glycemic and hypertensive control exhibited statistically significant but small magnitude differences across frailty states. Medication deintensification was uncommon, even in frail patients below SBP and HbA1C targets. SBP levels were more likely to be outside recommended treatment ranges than glycemic levels. Trial registration As this study is a retrospective secondary analysis of electronic medical record data and not a health care intervention trial it was not registered.

Keywords: Database research; Deintensification; Diabetes mellitus; Glycemic control; Hypertension; Pharmaco-epidemiology; Targets; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Frailty / diagnosis
  • Frailty / epidemiology
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Health Status*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human