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Diabet Med. 2013 Oct;30(10):1172-80. doi: 10.1111/dme.12160.

Biological variation of cardiovascular risk factors in patients with diabetes.

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Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, University of Hull, Hull, UK.


Biological variation refers to the natural fluctuations found when repeated measurements are made in a biological system. Generally, biological variation remains within narrow boundaries in health, but may differ in pathological states, with implications for the diagnosis and monitoring of disease processes. In disease, biological variation may alter such that any subsequent measurement may need to have a greater difference compared with a healthy control to be biologically relevant. Treatments such as insulin or anti-hypertensive therapy have been shown to reduce biological variability closer to normal levels and theoretically this may help prevent complication development or progression in conditions such as diabetes. This article reviews how biological variation can influence our identification and assessment of vascular risk factors in a person with diabetes. The role of biological variation in the diagnosis of diabetes (glucose and HbA1c) is then examined. Finally, the influence that common treatments in diabetes have in modifying biological variation is described.

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