Intensive Diabetes Treatment Linked to Hypoglycemia: Study

French researchers are warning that intensive glucose lowering regimens used to treat type 2 diabetes may be dangerous for patients and appear to provide little health benefit. 

In a study published last week in the British Medical Journal, researchers suggested that doctors need to be careful about intensive glucose-lowering treatment, which has become widely used, particularly among diabetes patients with a high risk of heart disease.

Researchers found that the treatments did not appear to decrease cardiovascular death or all-cause death in diabetes patients, and could cause them to suffer the effects of hypoglycemia, which occurs when glucose levels are far too low.

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The study looked at 13 different trials that included 34,533 patients, 18,315 of which received intensive glucose lowering treatment over a five year period. The rest received standard diabetes treatments. There was no significant change in the rate of mortality for cardiovascular problems or any other mortality rate, although they did find that it appeared to reduce the risk of non-fatal heart attacks. However, the number of number of incidents of severe hypoglycemia more than doubled.

Hypoglycemia most commonly occurs as a result of diabetes treatment. Symptoms can include hunger, shakiness, nervousness, sweating, dizziness or lightheadedness, sleepiness, confusion, difficulty speaking, anxiety and weakness. It can often be treated by eating or drinking a small amount of glucose-rich food, like carbohydrates. But left untreated it can lead to fainting, seizures, coma and death.

The scientists determined that one out of every 15 to 52 intensive glucose lowering treatment patients would suffer from hypoglycemia. That compares to preventing heart attacks in only one out of every 117 to 150 patients.

“The harm associated with severe hypoglycemia might counterbalance the potential benefit of intensive glucose lowering treatment,” the researchers concluded.


  • JohnAugust 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I sincerely hope that there will be a real cure for diabetes soon... The Actos was so-called to cure diabetes, but turned out that long term use of Actos would just lead to cancer...

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