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Glycated Hemoglobin Levels Tied to Age in Nondiabetics

Oct 28, 2008

In people without diabetes, A1C levels are positively associated with age, researchers report.

Dr. Lydie N. Pani of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues note that glycemic levels are known to rise with normal aging. However, in those without diabetes, the A1C range is not age specific.

To gain further information on the potential influence of aging on A1C in this population, the team examined data on more than 5700 diabetes-free participants in the Framingham Offspring Study and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004 (NHANES).

In both groups, A1C was positively associated with age. The researchers noted 0.014 unit per year increases in the Framingham group and 0.10 unit increases in NHANES subjects.

The highest A1C level in those younger than 40 years old was 6.0% in Framingham subjects and 5.6% in the NHANES group. Corresponding values in subjects older than 70 years old were 6.6% and 6.2 %.

After adjustment for factors including sex and body mass index, the findings were similar in a subset in the Framingham study restricted to those with normal glucose tolerance.

Dr. Pani stated that, "further studies"are needed to address the specific causes and consequences of a rise in A1C with aging in normal glucose tolerant subjects. Our study suggests that age may need to be taken into consideration when setting diagnostic thresholds and treatment targets for diabetes, as an A1C of 6.5% may have different meanings in a 30-year-old versus a 70- year-old."

Diabetes Care 2008;31:1991-1996.



Better Outcomes With Insulin for Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes: Insulin provides better glycemic control and improvement in beta-cell function than do oral antidiabetes drugs in patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes with severe hyperglycemia, according to a new report.  See This Weeks’ Item #6.


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