Background: The new fasting American Diabetes Association (ADA) criteria for the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus rely mainly on fasting blood glucose concentrations and use a lower cut-off value for diagnosis than the WHO criteria. We aimed to assess the sensitivity of these criteria for the detection of cardiovascular disease, the main complication of diabetes mellitus in the elderly. Methods: We did a cross-sectional and prospective analysis of 4515 participants of the Cardiovascular Health Study, an 8-year longitudinal study designed to identify factors related to the onset and course of cardiovascular disease in adults aged at least 65 years. We calculated the prevalence and incidence of cardiovascular disease for the ADA and WHO criteria. Findings: There was a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease among individuals with impaired glucose or newly diagnosed diabetes by both criteria than among those with normal glucose concentrations. However, because fewer individuals had abnormal glucose states by the fasting ADA criteria (22.3%) than by the WHO criteria (46.8%), the number of cases of cardiovascular disease attributable to abnormal glucose states was a third of that attributable by the WHO criteria (53 vs 159 cases per 10,000). For the two sets of criteria, the relative risk for incident cardiovascular disease (mean follow-up 5.9 years) was higher in individuals with impaired glucose and newly diagnosed diabetes than in those with normal glucose. Individuals classified as normal by the fasting ADA criteria had a higher absolute number of incident events (455 of 581 events) than those classified as normal by the WHO criteria (269 of 581 events). Fasting ADA criteria were therefore less sensitive than the WHO criteria for predicting cardiovascular disease among individuals with abnormal glucose (sensitivity, 28% vs 54%). Interpretation: The new fasting ADA criteria seem to be less predictive than the WHO criteria for the burden of cardiovascular disease associated with abnormal glucose in the elderly.
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