Objective: To construct dose response curves relating the development of diabetic complications (retinopathy and microalbuminuria) to mean glycaemic exposure in a cohort of Type 2 patients followed over a period of several years. This allows a comparison with similar data on Type 1 subjects reported by the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and provides a rational basis for deciding what levels of glycaemic control should be aimed for in advising individual patients and in setting guidelines for conducting health services.
Research design and methods: This was an analysis of data prospectively collected in our computerized data base for Type 2 patients who attended and were followed up at the Complications Assessment Service of our Diabetes Center. The initial development of retinopathy and microalbuminuria was analyzed with respect to the mean HbA1c during the follow up period. Statistical procedures identical to those employed in the DCCT were used to construct the dose response curve.
Results: A smooth relationship between the development of retinopathy with increasing hyperglycaemia was found. For every 10% decrease in HbA1c, there was a 24%) (confidence interval (CI): 16-32) reduction in relative risk, about 2/3 of that reported for insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) patients. The relationship between microalbuminuria and HbAc was more linear and less steep with a relative risk reduction of 9% (CI: -2-19%) for any 10% fall in HbA1c, about 1/3 of that reported for IDDM subjects. No threshold of HbA1c can be found for the relative risk of developing complications. However, more cases of complications are prevented by the same degree of improvement in glycaemic control at higher levels of HbA1c.
Conclusions: The development of diabetic retinopathy in Type 2 subjects is also related to the magnitude of hyperglycaemia although the degree of dependence is less than that in Type 1. Glycaemic control has less influence on microalbuminuria in Type 2. In terms of relative risk, no threshold of 'safe HbA1c' can be found but in absolute terms more cases of diabetic complications can be prevented by improving the glycaemic control of the very hyperglycaemic patients.