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Individualized A1c Targets for Type 2 Diabetes

October 23, 2012

By Jane Seley, DNP, MPH, MSN, BC-ADM, CDE, diabetes nurse practitioner at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Hospital, New York City

On April 19th, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) released a joint position statement online that represented a giant step forward in the care of people with type 2 diabetes. “Management of Hyperglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes: A Patient-Centered Approach” is a comprehensive yet easy to read primer in the most up-to-date therapies, one that also emphasizes individualizing care as the key to success.

An example of the patient-centered approach of this position statement is a refinement of the customary across-the-board hemoglobin A1c test target recommendation of less than 7% for most people with type 2 diabetes, with pre-meal blood glucose (BG) targets of less than 130 mg/dL and post-meal targets of less than 180 mg/dL. The position statement suggests “more stringent” targets of 6%–6.5% for “selected” patients who are younger and in good health, but safer targets of 7.5%–8% for older patients who have comorbidities or are prone to hypoglycemia.

When discussing therapeutic options, each medication is ranked according to its potential for lowering A1c, risk of hypoglycemia, effect on weight, adverse effects, and cost. In addition, the clinician is encouraged to individualize the treatment regimen by considering age, weight goal, and comorbidities such as heart disease and kidney function. For example, if losing weight is an important consideration for the patient, then a medication that may assist in weight loss such as metformin (oral agent) or a GLP-1 receptor agonist (injectable) would be good choices. A weight-neutral alternative would be a DPP-IV inhibitor (oral agent).

The position statement reminds us that lifestyle changes are a priority, with a focus on weight optimization, healthy meals, and increased activity levels. My favorite part of this document is the recommendation that treatment decisions be made in partnership with the patient, with a focus on each individual’s preferences, needs, and values.

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