Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention - Leading the effort to treat and prevent diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives
Some laboratories report eAG whenever an A1C is ordered. Providers at sites that do not receive the eAG in lab reports can use conversion estimates such as those provided in Table above.
Glycemic goals can be set using eAG since it may be easier for patients to assess whether goals are being reached every day when blood glucose is tested at home. The conversion table may help some patients make the connection between daily and long-term glucose control.Back to Top
Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG)
Recommendations for Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose
People with diabetes perform SMBG as a tool to help improve glycemic control. Since SMBG is expensive and can be burdensome for patients, research has been conducted to see if its effectiveness is worth its cost and inconvenience. The result has been general agreement that SMBG should be recommended for all insulin-treated patients with diabetes. The data are less clear, however, in patients treated with oral agents, and it is not known whether SMBG is useful in patients treated with diet alone.
Patients need hands-on instruction in how to use their glucose meter, including quality control. Training is more effective when patients are asked to demonstrate the correct procedure for checking blood glucose at the time of initial SMBG training, whenever they receive a new monitor, and periodically, to ensure they are still performing it correctly.Back to Top
Setting Glycemic Control Goals
Recommendations for Setting Glycemic Control Goals
Benefits of Tight Glycemic Control
There is strong research evidence for the benefits of tight glucose control early in the course of diabetes. In the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), each 1% reduction in mean A1C was associated with reductions in risk of 21% for any end point related to diabetes, 21% for deaths related to diabetes, 14% for myocardial infarction, and 37% for microvascular complications.
In a 10-year follow-up of the more than 5,000 newly diagnosed people with diabetes who had been enrolled in the UKPDS, significantly greater risk reductions in microvascular disease, myocardial infarction, and mortality were noted in the intensive therapy group than in the conventional therapy group. These results were observed even though there were no longer differences in glycemic control soon after the main study ended. This finding has been referred to as a “legacy effect,” providing credible evidence for the importance of intensive therapy early in the course of diabetes to help reduce the risk of complications later in the patient’s life.
Risks of Tight Glycemic Control
While intensive glycemic control in newly diagnosed patients is beneficial, tight control in the general diabetes population has not demonstrated the same benefits. Clinical trials, including Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD), Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease: Preterax and Diamicron MR Controlled Evaluation (ADVANCE), and Veterans Affairs Diabetes Trial (VADT), have shown that the risks of tight glycemic control include severe hypoglycemia and increased mortality. Further, a recent meta-analysis concluded that intensive glycemic control does not significantly reduce risk for all-cause or cardiovascular mortality, non-fatal myocardial infarction, composite microvascular complications, or retinopathy.
→ Note: While the risks of intensive control outweigh the benefits for many patients, it is still important to achieve individualized glucose targets and to avoid poor glycemic control.
Individualizing Glycemic Control Targets
Given the risks and lack of benefits of intensive control for many people with diabetes, the ADA Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2012 (p. S19) recommends that:
“...less stringent A1C goals may be appropriate for patients with a history of severe hypoglycemia, limited life expectancy, advanced microvascular or macrovascular complications, extensive comorbid conditions, and those with longstanding diabetes in whom the general goal is difficult to attain despite DSME [Diabetes Self-Management Education], appropriate glucose monitoring, and effective doses of multiple glucose-lowering agents including insulin.”
One approach for individualizing glycemic control targets is to use target ranges rather than single targets. As shown in the Table below, the Veterans Administration/Department of Defense (VA/DoD) Diabetes Practice Guidelines Working Group recommends these target ranges: from < 7%, 7-8%, and 8-9%.
Using ranges allows for the flexibility needed for patient safety. In addition, ranges are used because they better account for the limitations of A1C testing accuracy, particularly in some Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-waived testing methods (e.g., point-of-care tests) that cannot reliably detect small changes in A1C. This may result in overestimation of A1C with consequent unwarranted intensification of therapy resulting in an increased likelihood of hypoglycemia.
A1C Target Recommendations, VA/DoD Diabetes Practice Guidelines, 2010
Footnotes for Table:
Performance Indicators, Standards of Care, and Individualized Targets
It is important that providers distinguish between performance indicators, standards of care, and the need to individualize patient goals.
→ Note: However, neither performance indicators nor standards of care should be understood to dictate the clinical goals for a particular patient, especially those whose medical conditions make achieving such goals unwise or even unsafe.
Treatment for Achieving Glycemic Control Targets
As with setting glycemic control targets, treatment plans for achieving targets must be individualized for each patient. In general, recommended first line therapy upon diagnosis includes lifestyle therapy and metformin. For guidance on treatment decisions, please see the Indian Health Type 2 Diabetes Algorithm Card and the consensus statement by Nathan et al. listed below.
Tools for Clinicians and Educators
Key Tools and Resources
IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention. Glucose Management Hub. Includes CME/CE online training, Quick Guide Cards, Treatment Algorithms, educational materials, best practices, and podcasts.
Nathan DM, et al. Medical Management of Hyperglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes: A Consensus Algorithm for the Initiation and Adjustment of Therapy: A Consensus Statement of the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. [PDF] Diabetes Care. 2009;32(1):193-203.
Inzucchi SE, Bergenstal RM, Buse JB, Diamant M, Ferrannini E, Nauck M, et al. Management of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes: a patient-centered approach: a position statement of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). [PDF] Diabetes Care.2012 Jun;35(6):1364–79.
Patient Education Materials