ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Better Definition of ‘Pre-Diabetes’ Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Long-Term Complications

Defining pre-diabetes based on hemoglobin A1C, a common test that determines a long-term average blood sugar level, is the most accurate predictor of who will go on to develop long-term complications from diabetes, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.

Professional organizations do not agree on how to define pre-diabetes, a condition that indicates a patient is likely to develop type 2 diabetes and its potential complications in the near future. For example, the American Diabetes Association recommends using hemoglobin A1C or glucose levels to diagnose pre-diabetes, while the World Health Organization recommends physicians use glucose only.

What they do agree on, however, is that people who are at high risk of developing diabetes can reduce that risk substantially through lifestyle modifications such as moderate weight loss, increased exercise and diet modifications. Some groups also recommend the use of a medication called metformin to help reduce diabetes risk. The issue is figuring out the best way to identify people with pre-diabetes, researchers say.

Their findings are published November 15 in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

“The goal is to figure out who is at the highest risk of not only developing diabetes but of developing its serious complications including kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and even death,” says study leader Ms. Bethany Warren, a PhD student in the department of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School. “Hemoglobin A1C appears to be the tool that is best able to do that.”

Read more: