Value of glycaemic control in diabetes

Clifford J. Bailey, Anthony H. Barnett, John R. Petrie

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter, comment or opinionpeer-review

Abstract

Full text:
Several Lancet publications have questioned the value of glycaemic control in diabetic patients. For example, in their Comment (Sept 29, p 1103),1 John Cleland and Stephen Atkin state that “Improved glycaemic control is not a surrogate for effective care of patients who have diabetes”, and Victor Montori and colleagues (p 1104)2 claim that “HbA1c loses its validity as a surrogate marker when patients have a constellation of metabolic abnormalities”.
We are concerned that the reaction against “glucocentricity” in the field of diabetes has gone too far. Even the UK's National Prescribing Centre website, carrying the National Health Service logo, includes comments that undermine the value of glycaemic control. For example, referring to the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), this site states that “Compared with ‘conventional control’ there was no benefit from tight control of blood glucose with sulphonylureas or insulin with regard to total mortality, diabetes-related death, macrovascular outcomes or microvascular outcomes, including all the most serious ones such as blindness or kidney failure”.3

It is well established that better glycaemic control reduces long-term microvascular complications in type 1 and type 2 diabetes.4 In type 2 diabetes, the UKPDS reported that a composite microvascular endpoint (retinopathy requiring photocoagulation, vitreous haemorrhage, and fatal or non-fatal renal failure) was reduced by 25% in patients randomised to intensive glucose control (p=0·0099).4 To imply that these are not patient-relevant outcomes is to distort the evidence. Many studies have also found that improved glycaemic control reduces macrovascular complications.5 Do not be misled: glycaemic control remains a crucial component in the care of people with diabetes.
The authors have received research support and undertaken ad hoc consultancies and speaker engagements for several pharmaceutical companies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116
Number of pages1
JournalThe Lancet
Volume371
Issue number9607
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2008

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