Thursday, March 4, 2010

Change in medical thinking: Don't overtreat diabetes

As an endocrinologist, I have spent more than 30 years trying to lower the sugar levels in diabetics to a normal level. As a diabetic, I have tried to keep my fasting glucose level below 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) and my hemoglobin A1C (or glycated hemoglobin level) below 6 percent. Three studies conducted during the past couple of years are causing me to rethink my approach to treating diabetes.

The most dramatic was published this year. Craig Currie and his Cardiff University colleagues examined two groups of more than 20,000 patients in the United Kingdom who were being treated for diabetes. Members of both groups were at least 50 years old. The researchers found that those who were least likely to die had a hemoglobin A1C of 7.5 percent. This is higher than the American Diabetes Association's recommended hemoglobin A1C level of 7 percent or lower. Those who took insulin, researchers said, had worse outcomes.
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