Postprandial Hyperglycemia and Diabetes Complications

Is It Time to Treat?

  1. Antonio Ceriello
  1. From the Department of Pathology and Medicine, Experimental and Clinical, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Antonio Ceriello, Chair of Internal Medicine, University of Udine, P.le S. Maria della Misericordia, 33100 Udine, Italy. E-mail: ceriello{at}


Increasing evidence suggests that the postprandial state is a contributing factor to the development of atherosclerosis. In diabetes, the postprandial phase is characterized by a rapid and large increase in blood glucose levels, and the possibility that the postprandial “hyperglycemic spikes” may be relevant to the onset of cardiovascular complications has recently received much attention. Epidemiological studies and preliminary intervention studies have shown that postprandial hyperglycemia is a direct and independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Most of the cardiovascular risk factors are modified in the postprandial phase in diabetic subjects and directly affected by an acute increase of glycemia. The mechanisms through which acute hyperglycemia exerts its effects may be identified in the production of free radicals. This alarmingly suggestive body of evidence for a harmful effect of postprandial hyperglycemia on diabetes complications has been sufficient to influence guidelines from key professional scientific societies. Correcting the postprandial hyperglycemia may form part of the strategy for the prevention and management of CVDs in diabetes.


    • Accepted September 13, 2004.
    • Received July 12, 2004.
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