Prediabetes Defined by First Measured HbA1c Predicts Higher Cardiovascular Risk Compared With HbA1c in the Diabetes Range: A Cohort Study of Nationwide Registries


To assess the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), all-cause mortality, and initiation of medical treatment in subjects with prediabetes according to first-time measured HbA1c.


Through registry databases, we identified 326,305 Danish patients with a first HbA1c between 40 and 51 mmol/mol (5.8–6.8%) from 2011 to 2017. After exclusion of patients with prior disease, 84,678 patients were followed 12 months after first HbA1c measurement. Cox regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) of MACE and standardized absolute risks. Cumulative incidences were used to analyze initiation of glucose-lowering, antihypertensive, cholesterol-lowering, and antithrombotic medication.


The 12-months risk of MACE and all-cause mortality increased gradually with increasing HbA1c until 47 mmol/mol (6.5%). In comparisons of subjects with HbA1c 40–41 mmol/mol (5.8–5.9%), subjects with HbA1c 46–47 mmol/mol (6.4–6.5%) had a 0.79% (95% CI 0.33–1.24) higher standardized absolute risk and an HR of 2.21 (95% CI 1.67–2.92) of MACE. Patients with HbA1c 48–49 mmol/mol (6.5–6.6%) had a 0.09% (95% CI –0.35 – 0.52) lower absolute risk and an HR of 1.33 (95% CI 0.87–2.05) of MACE. Initiation of medication was significantly lower among patients with HbA1c of 46–47 mmol/mol (6.4–6.5%) than among patients with HbA1c of 48–49 mmol/mol (6.5–6.6%).


In the Danish population screened for diabetes with HbA1c, the highest risk of MACE and all-cause mortality was found in subjects with HbA1c just below the diagnostic threshold for diabetes. Our results highlight the need for increased focus on the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors for subjects with prediabetes.