BackgroundStudies investigating the association between glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level and mortality risk in diabetic patients receiving hemodialysis have shown conflicting results.
Study designWe conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis using MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library.
Setting & populationDiabetic patients on maintenance hemodialysis therapy.
Selection criteria for studiesObservational studies or randomized controlled trials investigating the association between HbA1c values and mortality risk. Study authors were asked to provide anonymized individual patient data or reanalyze results according to a standard template.
PredictorSingle measurement or mean HbA1c values. Mean HbA1c values were calculated using all individual-patient HbA1c values during the follow-up period of contributing studies.
OutcomeHR for mortality risk.
Results10 studies (83,684 participants) were included: 9 observational studies and one secondary analysis of a randomized trial. After adjustment for confounders, patients with baseline HbA1c levels ≥ 8.5% (≥ 69 mmol/mol) had increased mortality (7 studies; HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.09-1.19) compared with patients with HbA1c levels of 6.5%-7.4% (48-57mmol/mol). Likewise, patients with a mean HbA1c value ≥ 8.5% also had a higher adjusted risk of mortality (6 studies; HR,1.29; 95% CI, 1.23-1.35). There was a small but nonsignificant increase in mortality associated with mean HbA1c levels ≤ 5.4% (≤ 36 mmol/mol; 6 studies; HR, 1.09; 95% CI, 0.89-1.34). Sensitivity analyses in incident (≤ 90 days of hemodialysis) and prevalent patients (>90 days of hemodialysis) showed a similar pattern. In incident patients, mean HbA1c levels ≤ 5.4% also were associated with increased mortality risk (4 studies; HR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.23-1.35).
LimitationsObservational study data and inability to adjust for diabetes type in all studies.
ConclusionsDespite concerns about the utility of HbA1c measurement in hemodialysis patients, high levels (≥ 8.5%) are associated with increased mortality risk. Very low HbA1c levels (≤ 5.4%) also may be associated with increased mortality risk.