Relating mean blood glucose and glucose variability to the risk of multiple episodes of hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetes

E. S. Kilpatrick, A. S. Rigby, K. Goode, Stephen Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

142 Citations (Scopus)


Aims/hypothesis: The main disadvantage of intensive treatment in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) was an increased risk of hypoglycaemia that was not explained by the difference in HbA1c values alone. This study re-analysed DCCT data to establish whether mean blood glucose (MBG) and/or glucose variability add to the predictive value of HbA 1c for hypoglycaemia risk in type 1 diabetes. Methods: The times to first and subsequent severe hypoglycaemic events were compared with MBG, HbA1c and within-day SD of blood glucose using Cox regression after adjusting for other known risk factors for hypoglycaemia. Results: On its own, the incidence of time to first hypoglycaemic event increased 1.05-fold for each 1 mmol/l decrease in MBG and 1.07-fold for every 1 mmol/l increase in glucose SD. MBG and SD of blood glucose also both added to the ability of HbA 1c to predict repeated hypoglycaemic events: after adjusting for HbA1c, a 1 mmol/l increase in SD was associated with a 1.09-fold increased risk of a first event, increasing to a 1.12-fold risk of a fifth event. A 1 mmol/l fall in MBG added a constant 1.02-1.03-fold risk of repeated events. Daytime events were predicted more accurately than nocturnal episodes. Conclusions/interpretation: This study has established that HbA1c, MBG and glucose variability measurements each have an independent role in determining an individual's risk of hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetes. All three aspects of glycaemic assessment should thus be considered in patients in whom hypoglycaemia is a real or potential problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2553-2561
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • DCCT
  • Diabetes
  • Glucose
  • Glucose variability
  • Glycated haemoglobin
  • HbA
  • Hypoglycaemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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