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Are There Clinical Implications of Racial Differences in HbA1c? A Difference, to Be a Difference, Must Make a Difference.

TitleAre There Clinical Implications of Racial Differences in HbA1c? A Difference, to Be a Difference, Must Make a Difference.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
Secondary AuthorsSelvin E
JournalDiabetes Care
Volume39
Issue8
Pagination1462-7
Date Published2016 08
ISSN1935-5548
KeywordsAfrican Americans, Aged, Atherosclerosis, Blood Glucose, Cholesterol, HDL, Cholesterol, LDL, Decision Making, Diabetes Mellitus, European Continental Ancestry Group, Glycated Hemoglobin A, Humans, Hyperglycemia, Middle Aged, Prognosis, Renal Insufficiency, Chronic, Reproducibility of Results, Risk Factors, Socioeconomic Factors, Triglycerides
Abstract

Studies that have compared HbA1c levels by race have consistently demonstrated higher HbA1c levels in African Americans than in whites. These racial differences in HbA1c have not been explained by measured differences in glycemia, sociodemographic factors, clinical factors, access to care, or quality of care. Recently, a number of nonglycemic factors and several genetic polymorphisms that operate through nonglycemic mechanisms have been associated with HbA1c Their distributions across racial groups and their impact on hemoglobin glycation need to be systematically explored. Thus, on the basis of evidence for racial differences in HbA1c, current clinical guidelines from the American Diabetes Association state: "It is important to take…race/ethnicity…into consideration when using the A1C to diagnose diabetes." However, it is not clear from the guidelines how this recommendation might be actualized. So, the critical question is not whether racial differences in HbA1c exist between African Americans and whites; the important question is whether the observed differences in HbA1c level are clinically meaningful. Therefore, given the current controversy, we provide a Point-Counterpoint debate on this issue. In the preceding point narrative, Dr. Herman provides his argument that the failure to acknowledge that HbA1c might be a biased measure of average glycemia and an unwillingness to rigorously investigate this hypothesis will slow scientific progress and has the potential to do great harm. In the counterpoint narrative below, Dr. Selvin argues that there is no compelling evidence for racial differences in the validity of HbA1c as a measure of hyperglycemia and that race is a poor surrogate for differences in underlying causes of disease risk.-William T. CefaluEditor in Chief, Diabetes Care.

DOI10.2337/dc16-0042
Alternate JournalDiabetes Care
PubMed ID27457637
PubMed Central IDPMC4955930
Grant ListHHSN268201100012C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100009I / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100010C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100008C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100005G / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100008I / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
R01 DK089174 / DK / NIDDK NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100007C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100011I / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100011C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100006C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100005I / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
K24 DK106414 / DK / NIDDK NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100009C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100005C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201100007I / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States