Postprandial hyperglycemia and glycemic variability: Should we care?

Eberhard Standl, Oliver Schnell, Antonio Ceriello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this article is to evaluate the pros and cons of a specific impact of postprandial hyperglycemia and glycemic variability on the-mainly cardiovascular (CV)-complications of diabetes, above and beyond the average blood glucose (BG) as measured by HbA1c or fasting plasma glucose (FPG). The strongest arguments in favor of this hypothesis come fromimpressive pathophysiological studies, also in the human situation. Measures of oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction seem to be especially closely related to glucose peaks and even more so to fluctuating high and low glucose concentrations and can be restored to normal by preventing those glucose peaks or wide glucose excursions. The epidemiological evidence, which is more or less confined to postprandial hyperglycemia and postglucose load glycemia, is also rather compelling in favor of the hypothesis, although certainly not fully conclusive as there are also a number of conflicting results. The strongest cons are seen in the missing evidence as derived from randomized prospective intervention studies targeting postprandial hyperglycemia longer term, i.e., over several years, and seeking to reduce hard CV end points. In fact, several such intervention studies in men have recently failed to produce the intended beneficial outcome results. As this evidence by intervention is, however, key for the ultimate approval of a treatment concept in patients with diabetes, the current net balance of attained evidence is not in favor of the hypothesis here under debate, i.e., that we should care about postprandial hyperglycemia and glycemic variability. The absence of a uniformly accepted standard of how to estimate these parameters adds a further challenge to this whole debate.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDiabetes Care
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing


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