Blood glucose levels and glycaemic burden in 76,341 patients attending primary care: Bittersweet findings from a 9-year cohort study

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Aims Diabetes care is principally applied in the primary care setting whereby we examined trends in glycaemic levels and goals and estimated avoidable glycaemic burden. Methods We retrieved glycated haemoglobin (HbA1C) results and glucose-lowering prescription records from a patient-based medical database during 2005–2013. There were 275,480 available HbA1Cmeasurements from 76,341 individuals managed by 960 general practitioners from 321 clinics across Australia. Change in mean levels and glycaemic control over time were assessed according to sex, age and glucose-lowering therapy. The time that HbA1Clevels exceeded 7% (53 mmol/mol) in untreated (n = 4888), non-insulin (n = 11,534) and insulin treated (n = 4049) patients was calculated as area under the curve (AUC) and months above threshold. Results Average age of patients was 62.1 ± 15.1 years (47.1% women). HbA1Clevels decreased from 7.1% (54 mmol/mol) in 2005 to 6.6% (49 mmol/mol) in 2013 and the proportion of patients who achieved a HbA1Ctarget of <7% improved by 16% in men (53–69%) and 21% in women (55–76%). HbA1Clevels decreased with advancing age in men and increased with insulin treatment; correspondingly, HbA1Cgoal attainment increased and decreased, respectively. Avoidable glycaemic burden was 9.3 ± 17.7 months in untreated, 16.2 ± 25.2 months in non-insulin, and 26.8 ± 34.6 months in insulin-treated patients. Conclusions Amid considerable improvements, many treated patients still do not attain HbA1Clevels ≤7% and time spent above this threshold was delayed. Earlier and more vigorously intensified management may reduce lengthy periods of uncontrolled hyperglycaemia in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-96
Number of pages8
JournalDiabetes Research and Clinical Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Diabetes
  • Glycaemic burden
  • Glycaemic control
  • HbA1c
  • Primary care management
  • Secular trends

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