Adults developing type 2 diabetes (T2D) have an increased risk of heart disease and early death. Until recently, we were unsure if this increased risk changes over time. This impacts when to take steps to lower HbA1c levels. For example, waiting too long may put people at increased risk of severe complications.
Improving HbA1c soon after diagnosis makes sense
Researchers looked at the relationship between changes in HbA1c and risk in people diagnosed with T2D over 20 years ago. This helped them figure out if good control of blood sugar levels at the time of diagnosis is important in the long term. They looked at the risk of early death and rates of heart attacks in 3,802 participants from a study that was first published in 1998. They compared participants who lowered their HbA1c just after a T2D diagnosis with others who took up to 10 years to lower their HbA1c.
Early control of HbA1c has a long-term benefit
They found that people who lowered their HbA1c by at least 1% right after diagnosis had lower risk of early death and heart attack. This is called a legacy effect. It means that detecting diabetes early and intensive blood sugar control from the time of diagnosis is essential to reduce the long-term risk from the condition. A previous study has suggested that the first 3 months immediately after a diagnosis of T2D is a very important time to focus on improving control.