Framework for Considering Treatment Goals for Glycemia, Blood Pressure, and Dyslipidemia in Older Adults With Diabetes

Patient characteristics/health statusRationaleReasonable A1C goalFasting or preprandial glucose (mg/dL)Bedtime glucose (mg/dL)Blood pressure (mmHg)Lipids
Healthy (few coexisting chronic illnesses, intact cognitive and functional status)Longer remaining life expectancy<7.5%90–13090–150<140/90Statin unless contraindicated or not tolerated
Complex/intermediate (multiple coexisting chronic illnesses* or 2+ instrumental ADL impairments or mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment)Intermediate remaining life expectancy, high treatment burden, hypoglycemia vulnerability, fall risk<8.0%90–150100–180<140/90Statin unless contraindicated or not tolerated
Very complex/poor health (long-term care or end-stage chronic illnesses** or moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment or 2+ ADL dependencies)Limited remaining life expectancy makes benefit uncertain<8.5%100–180110–200<150/90Consider likelihood of benefit with statin (secondary prevention more so than primary)
  • This represents a consensus framework for considering treatment goals for glycemia, blood pressure, and dyslipidemia in older adults with diabetes. The patient characteristic categories are general concepts. Not every patient will clearly fall into a particular category. Consideration of patient and caregiver preferences is an important aspect of treatment individualization. Additionally, a patient’s health status and preferences may change over time. ADL, activities of daily living.

  • A lower A1C goal may be set for an individual if achievable without recurrent or severe hypoglycemia or undue treatment burden.

  • * Coexisting chronic illnesses are conditions serious enough to require medications or lifestyle management and may include arthritis, cancer, congestive heart failure, depression, emphysema, falls, hypertension, incontinence, stage 3 or worse chronic kidney disease, myocardial infarction, and stroke. By “multiple,” we mean at least three, but many patients may have five or more (Laiteerapong N, Iveniuk J, John PM, Laumann EO, Huang ES. Classification of older adults who have diabetes by comorbid conditions, United States, 2005–2006. Prev Chronic Dis 2012;9:E100).

  • ** The presence of a single end-stage chronic illness, such as stage 3–4 congestive heart failure or oxygen-dependent lung disease, chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis, or uncontrolled metastatic cancer, may cause significant symptoms or impairment of functional status and significantly reduce life expectancy.

  • A1C of 8.5% equates to an estimated average glucose of ∼200 mg/dL. Looser glycemic targets than this may expose patients to acute risks from glycosuria, dehydration, hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome, and poor wound healing.