Too Much Blood Sugar Control

Intensive blood sugar control harmful to type 2 diabetics

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Trying to maintain normal blood sugar levels can be harmful to type 2 diabetic patients who also have heart disease.

In order to determine the potential benefits of intensive blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes and who have heart disease, the researchers compared the outcomes of diabetic patients in two groups: one group that underwent an intensive blood sugar intervention, and one group that participated in a standard diabetes treatment program.

Patients in the intensive intervention group strived for A1c blood sugar levels under six percent, or non-diabetic levels, while patients in the standard program tried to get their blood sugar levels between seven percent and 7.9 percent.

The study analyzed five years worth of data. Patients in the intensive group underwent an average of 3.7 years of intensive treatment, followed by a little over one year of standard treatment.

At the end of the study, researchers found that patients in the intensive therapy group experienced a 21 percent reduction in the risk of heart attacks. However, the intensive therapy group also experienced a 21 percent increase in the risk of death resulting from all causes. In a follow-up, the researchers observed similar trends.

The authors conclude that intensive blood sugar control should not be a recommended treatment strategy for people with type 2 diabetes, especially for high-risk patients who also have other health complications.

An estimated 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. That is 8.3 percent of the American population. Of those people, 18.8 million have been diagnosed, leaving many diabetic and at-risk individuals in the dark.

The study, by Dr. Hertzel C. Gerstein, Chair in Diabetes Research at the Population Research Health Institute at McMaster University and hi colleagues, is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Review Date: 
March 4, 2011
Last Updated:
March 7, 2011