Risk factors associated with severe hypoglycemia in older adults with type 1 diabetes
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OBJECTIVE: Severe hypoglycemia is common in older adults with long-standing type 1 diabetes, but little is known about factors associated with its occurrence. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: A case-control study was conducted at 18 diabetes centers in the T1D Exchange Clinic Network. Participants were >/=60 years old with type 1 diabetes for >/=20 years. Case subjects (n = 101) had at least one severe hypoglycemic event in the prior 12 months. Control subjects (n = 100), frequency-matched to case subjects by age, had no severe hypoglycemia in the prior 3 years. Data were analyzed for cognitive and functional abilities, social support, depression, hypoglycemia unawareness, various aspects of diabetes management, C-peptide level, glycated hemoglobin level, and blinded continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) metrics. RESULTS: Glycated hemoglobin (mean 7.8% vs. 7.7%) and CGM-measured mean glucose (175 vs. 175 mg/dL) were similar between case and control subjects. More case than control subjects had hypoglycemia unawareness: only 11% of case subjects compared with 43% of control subjects reported always having symptoms associated with low blood glucose levels (P < 0.001). Case subjects had greater glucose variability than control subjects (P = 0.008) and experienced CGM glucose levels <60 mg/dL for >/=20 min on 46% of days compared with 33% of days in control subjects (P = 0.10). On certain cognitive tests, case subjects scored worse than control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: In older adults with long-standing type 1 diabetes, greater hypoglycemia unawareness and glucose variability are associated with an increased risk of severe hypoglycemia. A study to assess interventions to prevent severe hypoglycemia in high-risk individuals is needed.