Prediabetes and risk of mortality, diabetes-related complications and comorbidities: umbrella review of meta-analyses of prospective studies

Diabetologia. 2022 Feb;65(2):275-285. doi: 10.1007/s00125-021-05592-3. Epub 2021 Oct 31.


Aims/hypothesis: The term prediabetes is used for individuals who have impaired glucose metabolism whose glucose or HbA1c levels are not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes may already be associated with an increased risk of chronic 'diabetes-related' complications. This umbrella review aimed to provide a systematic overview of the available evidence from meta-analyses of prospective observational studies on the associations between prediabetes and incident diabetes-related complications in adults and to evaluate their strength and certainty.

Methods: For this umbrella review, systematic reviews with meta-analyses reporting summary risk estimates for the associations between prediabetes (based on fasting or 2 h postload glucose or on HbA1c) and incidence of diabetes-related complications, comorbidities and mortality risk were included. PubMed, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library and Epistemonikos were searched up to 17 June 2021. Summary risk estimates were recalculated using a random effects model. The certainty of evidence was evaluated by applying the GRADE tool. This study is registered with PROSPERO, CRD42020153227.

Results: Ninety-five meta-analyses from 16 publications were identified. In the general population, prediabetes was associated with a 6-101% increased risk for all-cause mortality and the incidence of cardiovascular outcomes, CHD, stroke, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and chronic kidney disease, as well as total cancer, total liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, breast cancer and all-cause dementia with moderate certainty of evidence. No associations between prediabetes and incident depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment were observed (with low or very low certainty of evidence). The association with all-cause mortality was stronger for prediabetes defined by impaired glucose tolerance than for prediabetes defined by HbA1c.

Conclusions/interpretation: Prediabetes was positively associated with risk of all-cause mortality and the incidence of cardiovascular outcomes, CHD, stroke, chronic kidney disease, cancer and dementia. Further high-quality studies, particularly on HbA1c-defined prediabetes and other relevant health outcomes (e. g. neuropathy) are required to support the evidence.

Keywords: Complications; Meta-analysis; Mortality; Prediabetes; Systematic review; Umbrella review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cause of Death
  • Dementia / mortality
  • Diabetes Complications / mortality*
  • Glucose Intolerance / complications
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / mortality
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prediabetic State / mortality*
  • Risk Factors