American Diabetes Association Framework for Glycemic Control in Older Adults: Implications for Risk of Hospitalization and Mortality

Mary R. Rooney, Olive Tang, Justin B. Echouffo Tcheugui, Pamela L. Lutsey, Morgan E. Grams, B. Gwen Windham, Elizabeth Selvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE 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. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Prospective cohort analysis of older adults aged 66–90 years with diagnosed diabetes in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. RESULTS Of 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 (haz-ard 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-low-ering 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). CONCLUSIONS 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1524-1531
Number of pages8
JournalDiabetes care
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the American Diabetes Association.


  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Glycemic Control
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States/epidemiology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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