The 2021 American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines recommend different A1C targets in older adults that are based on comorbid health status. We assessed risk of mortality and hospitalizations in older adults with diabetes across glycemic control (A1C <7%, 7 to <8%, ≥8%) and ADA-defined health status (healthy, complex/intermediate, very complex/poor) categories.Prospective cohort analysis of older adults aged 66-90 years with diagnosed diabetes in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.In the 1,841 participants (56% women, 29% Black), 32% were classified as healthy, 42% as complex/intermediate, and 27% as very complex/poor health. Over a median 6-year follow-up, there were 409 (22%) deaths and 4,130 hospitalizations (median [25th-75th percentile] 1 per person [0-3]). In the very complex/poor category, individuals with A1C ≥8% (vs. <7%) had higher mortality risk (hazard ratio 1.76 [95% CI 1.15-2.71]), even after adjustment for glucose-lowering medication use. Within the very complex/poor health category, individuals with A1C ≥8% (vs. <7%) had more hospitalizations (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.41 [95% CI 1.03-1.94]). In the complex/intermediate group, individuals with A1C ≥8% (vs. <7%) had more hospitalizations, even with adjustment for glucose-lowering medication use (IRR 1.64 [1.21-2.24]). Results were similar, but imprecise, when the analysis was restricted to insulin or sulfonylurea users (n = 663).There were substantial differences in mortality and hospitalizations across ADA health status categories, but older adults with A1C <7% were not at elevated risk, regardless of health status. Our results support the 2021 ADA guidelines and indicate that <7% is a reasonable treatment goal in some older adults with diabetes.
Mary R Rooney, Olive Tang, Justin B Echouffo Tcheugui, Pamela L Lutsey, Morgan E Grams, B Gwen Windham, Elizabeth Selvin