Aims/hypothesis: Early recognition of those at high risk for diabetes as well as diabetes itself can permit preventive management, but many Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed. We sought to determine whether routinely available outpatient random plasma glucose (RPG) would be useful to facilitate the diagnosis of diabetes.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study of 942,446 U.S. Veterans without diagnosed diabetes, ≥3 RPG in a baseline year, and ≥1 primary care visit/year during 5-year follow-up. The primary outcome was incident diabetes (defined by diagnostic codes and outpatient prescription of a diabetes drug).
Results: Over 5 years, 94,599 were diagnosed with diabetes [DIAB] while 847,847 were not [NONDIAB]. Baseline demographics of DIAB and NONDIAB were clinically similar, except DIAB had higher BMI (32 vs. 28 kg/m2) and RPG (150 vs. 107 mg/dl), and were more likely to have Black race (18% vs. 15%), all p<0.001. ROC area for prediction of DIAB diagnosis within 1 year by demographic factors was 0.701, and 0.708 with addition of SBP, non-HDL cholesterol, and smoking. These were significantly less than that for prediction by baseline RPG alone (≥2 RPGs at/above a given level, ROC 0.878, p<0.001), which improved slightly when other factors were added (ROC 0.900, p<0.001). Having ≥2 RPGs ≥115 mg/dl had specificity 77% and sensitivity 87%, and ≥2 RPGs ≥130 mg/dl had specificity 93% and sensitivity 59%. For predicting diagnosis within 3 and 5 years by RPG alone, ROC was reduced but remained substantial (ROC 0.839 and 0.803, respectively).
Conclusions: RPG levels below the diabetes "diagnostic" range (≥200 mg/dl) provide good discrimination for follow-up diagnosis. Use of such levels-obtained opportunistically, during outpatient visits-could signal the need for further testing, allow preventive intervention in high risk individuals before onset of disease, and lead to earlier identification of diabetes.