A four-yr prospective study was undertaken to examine the natural history of IGT in 128 South-African Indians classified as such at year 0 of the study, based on WHO criteria. Subjects were reexamined at year 1 and year 4. Of the 113 subjects who completed the study, 50.4% progressed to NIDDM (rate of progression 12.6%/yr), 24.8% persisted with IGT, and 24.8%, reverted to NGT. The majority (72%) who progressed to NIDDM did so in year 1. At year 1, 47 subjects were still classified as IGT; of the 40 subjects completing the study, 16 subjects (40%) progressed to NIDDM, 17 subjects (42.5%) persisted with IGT, and 7 subjects (17.5%) reverted to NGT. Examination of risk factors predictive of subsequent progression to NIDDM was undertaken by analysis of baseline variables in two ways: When year 0 was used as baseline (in 113 IGT0 subjects), significant predictive risk factors were the FPG and 2-h plasma glucose concentrations. All subjects who at year 0 had 2-h plasma glucose ≥ 10.2 and < 11.1 mM or FPG ≥ 7.3 but < 7.8 mM, subsequently progressed to NIDDM. When year 1 was used as baseline (40 IGT1 subjects), 90-min plasma glucose concentration (midtest level) was found to be a significant risk factor for development of NIDDM. In conclusion, this study has demonstrated that in South-African Indians with IGT, the majority (50.4%) progress to NIDDM within 4 yr; significant predictors of subsequent diabetes are the baseline fasting and 2-h plasma glucose concentration. The midtest plasma glucose also may be a useful predictor of clinical outcome. Moreover, the study highlighted the rapid decompensation to NIDDM in the first year and the demonstration of cut-off levels of plasma glucose above which the risk of development of NIDDM is total.

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