Association Between the Presence of Iron Deficiency Anemia and Hemoglobin A1c in Korean Adults: The 2011–2012 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

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Few studies have investigated the clinical effect of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) on the use of the Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) as a screening parameter for diabetes or prediabetes. We investigated the association between IDA and HbA1c levels in Korean adults.Among the 11,472 adults (≥19 years of age) who participated in the 2011–2012 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (a cross-sectional and nationally representative survey conducted by the Korean Center for Disease Control for Health Statistics), 807 patients with diabetes currently taking anti-diabetes medications were excluded from this study. We compared the weighted HbA1c levels and weighted proportion (%) of HbA1c levels of ≥5.7%, ≥6.1%, and ≥6.5% according to the range of fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels and the presence of IDA.Among 10,665 participants (weighted n = 35,229,108), the prevalence of anemia and IDA was 7.3% and 4.3%, respectively. The HbA1c levels were higher in participants with IDA (5.70% ± 0.02%) than in normal participants (5.59% ± 0.01%; P < 0.001), whereas there was no significant difference in FPG levels. In participants with an FPG level of <100 mg/dL and 100 to 125 mg/dL, the weighted HbA1c level was higher in those with IDA (5.59% ± 0.02% and 6.00% ± 0.05%) than in normal participants (5.44% ± 0.01% and 5.82% ± 0.01%) after adjusting for confounders such as age, sex, FPG level, heavy alcohol drinking, waist circumference, and smoking status as well as after exclusion of an estimated glomerular filtration rate of <60 mL/min/1.73 m2 (P < 0.001, <0.01). The weighted proportions (%) of an HbA1c level of ≥5.7% and ≥6.1% were also higher in participants with IDA than in normal participants (P < 0.001, <0.05). However, the weighted HbA1c levels in individuals with an FPG level ≥126 mg/dL and a weighted proportion (%) of an HbA1c level of ≥6.5% showed no significant differences according to the presence of IDA.In conclusion, the presence of IDA shifted the HbA1c level upward only in the normoglycemic and prediabetic ranges, not in the diabetic range. Therefore, IDA should be considered before using HbA1c as a screening test for prediabetes.

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