Research on the effects of intensive treatment on hyperglycemia on type 2 diabetes

Dr. Faramarz Ismail-Beigi M.D., PhD., the previous Division Chief of Endocrinology, and a team of internationally renowned UHCMC diabetes specialists researched the effects of intensive treatment of hyperglycemia (or high blood sugar, a condition in which an excessive amount of glucose circulates in the blood plasma) on microvascular outcomes in type 2 diabetes in analyzing the ACCORD randomized trial.

Hyperglycemia is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular complications in people with type 2 diabetes.

The team set out to find out if reducing the blood glucose concentration to normal levels in people with established type 2 diabetes decreases the rate of microvascular complications. 10,251 patients were randomly assigned, 5,128 to the intensive glycemia control group and 5,123 to standard group. Intensive therapy was stopped before study end because of higher mortality in the glycemia group, and patients were transitioned to standard therapy. After reviewing the results, it was clear that intensive therapy did not reduce the risk of advanced measures of microvascular outcomes (such as kidney failure requiring dialysis, or advanced disease of the retina requiring surgery), but delayed the onset of albuminuria and some measures of eye complications and neuropathy.

The conclusion was made that microvascular benefits of intensive therapy should be weighed against the increase in total and cardiovascular disease-related mortality, increased weight gain, and high risk for severe hypoglycemia.

Dr. Ismail-Beigi suggests that “In elderly people with established type 2 diabetes of many years’ duration and a history of prior cardiovascular disease (such as a heart attack), or risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the benefits and risks associated with intensive blood sugar control needs to be carefully assessed on an individual basis.  The best approach is for patients to have a discussion with their health-care provider to set an appropriate blood sugar goal.”

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