AIMS: In type 2 diabetes, we aimed at clarifying the role of glycated haemoglobin variability and other risk factors in the development of the main micro-vascular complications: peripheral neuropathy, nephropathy and retinopathy. METHODS: In a single-centre cohort of 900 patients, glycated haemoglobin variability was evaluated as intra-individual standard deviation, adjusted standard deviation and coefficient of variation of serially measured glycated haemoglobin in the 2-year period before a randomly selected index visit. We devised four models considering different aspects of glycated haemoglobin evolution. Multivariate stepwise logistic regression analysis was performed including the following covariates at the index visit: age, disease duration, body mass index, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, sex, smoking habit, hypertension, dyslipidemia, treatment with anti-diabetic drugs, occurrence of macro-vascular events and the presence of another micro-vascular complication. RESULTS: Males with high mean glycated haemoglobin, long duration of diabetes, presence of macro-vascular events and retinopathy emerged at higher risk for peripheral neuropathy. Development of nephropathy was independently associated with higher glycated haemoglobin variability, older age, male sex, current smoking status, presence of retinopathy, of peripheral neuropathy and of hypertension. Higher mean glycated haemoglobin, younger age, longer duration of diabetes, reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate and the presence of peripheral neuropathy were significantly associated with increased incidence of retinopathy. CONCLUSION: Glycated haemoglobin variability was associated with increased incidence of nephropathy, while mean glycated haemoglobin emerged as independent risk factor for the development of retinopathy and peripheral neuropathy. The presence of macro-vascular events was positively correlated with peripheral neuropathy. Finally, the occurrence of another micro-vascular complication was found to be a stronger risk factor for developing another micro-vascular complication than the mean or variability of glycated haemoglobin.
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