Glycemic Control and Infections Among US Hemodialysis Patients With Diabetes Mellitus

Kidney Int Rep. 2020 Apr 29;5(7):1014-1025. doi: 10.1016/j.ekir.2020.04.020. eCollection 2020 Jul.


Introduction: Patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) on hemodialysis (HD) may be particularly vulnerable to infections.

Methods: We used merged data from the United States Renal Data System and electronic health records data from a large US dialysis provider to retrospectively examine the association between glycemic control and infections in these patients. Adult patients with DM aged ≥18 years who initiated in-center maintenance HD treatment from 2006 to 2011 and survived >90 days were included. Quarterly mean time-averaged hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) values were categorized into <5.5%, 5.5 to <6.5%, 6.5 to <7.5%, 7.5 to <8.5%, and ≥8.5%. We used Medicare claims to ascertain infection-related outcomes and the ESRD Death Notification to identify death from infectious cause. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the associations between time-averaged HbA1c categories and infectious events.

Results: In a cohort of 33,753 eligible patients, those with higher HbA1c levels had higher rates of diabetic foot infections and skin and soft tissue infections, with patients with HbA1c ≥8.5% having 23% (95% CI, 5%, 45%) and 22% (95% CI, 5%, 42%) higher rates, respectively, compared with HbA1c 5.5 to <6.5%. Patients in the lower HbA1c categories had higher rates of infection-related and all-cause mortality (P-for-trend <0.001).

Conclusion: This study highlights the need for greater attention to foot evaluation and skin and soft tissue infections among patients on HD with less than optimal diabetes control.

Keywords: diabetes mellitus; epidemiology; glycemic control; hemodialysis; infections.