Type II diabetes effects 21 million Americans and is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, blindness and kidney disease.
A federally funded study of more than 10,000 middle aged and older people with Type II diabetes found that dramatically lowering blood sugar actually increased the risk of death. Patients were in the study for about 4 years until the investigators stopped the study.
Among the study participants, there were 54 more deaths than in the group whose blood sugar levels were less rigidly controlled. Researchers don’t understand the findings.
The patients with the highest death rate were those in the intense treatment group that had to lower their blood sugars to normal which for many involved 4-5 shots of insulin daily and monitoring blood sugars 7-8 times a day. They took pills to lower blood sugar in addition to other meds to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol and had frequent phone and clinic follow-up appts.
Those assigned to the less stringent group had an easier time, with less frequent blood sugar monitoring and clinic visits, and they took fewer drugs or lower doses.
The average age of the patients were 62, who had diabetes for over 10 years, had higher than average blood sugar levels and who also had heart disease or other health conditions. In other words, they were already at high risk for heart disease.
Either way…it does raise questions about how stringent we should be about aggressively lowering blood sugars and whether people who are younger and do not have cardiovascular disease would have the same outcome.
My opinion…..I believe the stress of all the meds and the mental/emotional anxiety of pushing the numbers so aggressively down may have added to the cardiovascular burden. It would have been interesting to check the cortisol levels (stress hormone) of those among the groups. Cortisol is pro-inflammatory and we know that heart disease is an inflammatory condition. The 54 deaths were all heart attacks.
Recent findings on the effects of lowering blood sugar are unlikely to change the way most people with Type 2 diabetes manage their illness, doctors said Thursday….