Some oral antihyperglycemic agents may increase risk of hypoglycemia and thereby reduce patient quality of life. Our objective was to assess the impact of the severity and frequency of self-reported hypoglycemia on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among patients with type 2 diabetes treated with oral antihyperglycemic agents.
A follow-up survey was conducted in participants with self-reported type 2 diabetes treated with oral antihyperglycemic agents from the US National Health and Wellness Survey 2007. Data were collected on the severity and frequency of hypoglycemic episodes in the 6 months prior to the survey, with severity defined as mild (no interruption of activities), moderate (some interruption of activities), severe (needed assistance of others), or very severe (needed medical attention). HRQoL was assessed using the EuroQol-5D Questionnaire (EQ-5D) US weighted summary score (utility) and Worry subscale of the Hypoglycemia Fear Survey (HFS). Of the participants who completed the survey (N = 1,984), mean age was 58 years, 57% were male, 72% reported an HbA1c <7.0%, and 50% reported treatment with a sulfonylurea-containing regimen. Hypoglycemic episodes were reported by 63% of patients (46% mild, 37% moderate, 13% severe and 4% very severe). For patients reporting hypoglycemia, mean utility score was significantly lower (0.78 versus 0.86, p < 0.0001) and mean HFS score was significantly higher (17.5 versus 6.2, p < 0.0001) compared to patients not reporting hypoglycemia. Differences in mean scores between those with and without hypoglycemia increased with the level of severity (mild, moderate, severe, very severe) for utility (0.03, 0.09, 0.18, 0.23) and HFS (6.1, 13.9, 20.1, 25.6), respectively. After adjusting for age, gender, weight gain, HbA1c, microvascular complications, and selected cardiovascular conditions, the utility decrement was 0.045 (by level of severity: 0.009, 0.055, 0.131, 0.208), and the HFS increase was 9.6 (by severity: 5.3, 12.4, 17.6, 23.2). HRQoL further decreased with greater frequency of hypoglycemic episodes.
Self-reported hypoglycemia is independently associated with lower HRQoL, and the magnitude of this reduction increases with both severity and frequency of episodes in patients with type 2 diabetes treated with oral antihyperglycemic agents.