Glycated Hemoglobin and the Risk of Kidney Disease and Retinopathy in Adults With and Without Diabetes

  1. Josef Coresh1,2,4
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland;
  2. 2Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland;
  3. 3Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland;
  4. 4Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Medical School, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota;
  5. 5Merck and Company, Inc., Whitehouse Station, New Jersey;
  6. 6Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, Wisconsin;
  7. 7Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia;
  8. 8Singapore Eye Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
  1. Corresponding author: Elizabeth Selvin, lselvin{at}
  • L.D.B. was formerly affiliated with the Department of Epidemiology and the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.


OBJECTIVE Glycated hemoglobin was recently recommended for use as a diagnostic test for diabetes. We examined the association between 2010 American Diabetes Association diagnostic cut points for glycated hemoglobin and microvascular outcomes (chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal disease [ESRD], and retinopathy) and formally tested for the presence of risk thresholds in the relationships of glycated hemoglobin with these outcomes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Prospective cohort and cross-sectional analyses of 11,357 participants (773 with a history of diagnosed diabetes) from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study.

RESULTS During a median of 14 years of follow-up of individuals without diagnosed diabetes at baseline, clinical categories of glycated hemoglobin were associated with risk of chronic kidney disease, with adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) of 1.12 (0.94–1.34) and 1.39 (1.04–1.85) for glycated hemoglobin 5.7–6.4% and ≥6.5%, respectively, as compared with <5.7% (P trend = 0.002). The corresponding HRs for ESRD were 1.51 (0.82–2.76) and 1.98 (0.83–4.73), respectively (P trend = 0.047). In the absence of diagnosed diabetes, glycated hemoglobin was cross sectionally associated with the presence of moderate/severe retinopathy, with adjusted odds ratios of 1.42 (0.69–2.92) and 2.91 (1.19–7.11) for glycated hemoglobin 5.7–<6.5% and ≥6.5%, respectively, compared with <5.7% (P trend = 0.011). Risk associations were stronger among individuals with a history of diabetes. We did not observe significant thresholds in the associations of glycated hemoglobin with kidney disease risk or retinopathy.

CONCLUSIONS These data from a community-based, biracial population support the use of new 2010 American Diabetes Association glycated hemoglobin cut points for the diagnosis of diabetes.


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  • Received August 24, 2010.
  • Accepted October 7, 2010.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 60 no. 1 298-305
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