Early blood sugar control for type 2 diabetes ‘can lead to less deaths’

Early blood sugar control for type 2 diabetes ‘can lead to less deaths’

Early treatment of type 2 diabetes patients, focusing on controlling blood sugar through insulin and medications, can significantly extend life expectancy and mitigate the risk of future complications such as heart attacks, kidney failure, and vision impairment, according to extensive research spanning over four decades.

Researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh analyzed data from the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), one of the longest-running clinical trials on type 2 diabetes. Their findings revealed that early control of blood glucose, achieved through insulin injections or insulin-stimulating tablets like sulfonylureas, resulted in a 10% reduction in mortality, 17% fewer heart attacks, and 26% fewer diabetic complications.

Additionally, the use of metformin, a drug that enhances the body's insulin function, led to a 31% decrease in heart attacks and a 20% reduction in mortality.


Professor Rury Holman, the founding director of the University of Oxford Diabetes Trials Unit and chief investigator of the UKPDS, emphasized the critical importance of early detection and intensive treatment of type 2 diabetes. He highlighted that individuals may have the condition for years before diagnosis, underscoring the need for early intervention.

The UKPDS trial, initiated in 1977, assigned newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients to intensive or conventional blood glucose control strategies. The intensive approach involved medication such as sulfonylurea, insulin, or metformin, while the conventional method focused on dietary changes. The results demonstrated a lifelong reduction in the risk of premature death and heart attacks with intensive blood glucose control compared to diet alone, prompting global guidelines to recommend such therapies for all type 2 diabetes patients.

Professor Amanda Adler, director of the Diabetes Trial Unit, emphasized the critical nature of early and comprehensive treatment for type 2 diabetes, stating that simply playing catch-up with blood glucose control is insufficient.

Professor Philip Clarke, director of the University of Oxford Health Economics Research Centre, highlighted the substantial lifetime benefits of intensive blood glucose control, including increased life expectancy and improved quality of life due to reduced rates of diabetes-related complications.

The findings from the follow-up of the UK Prospective Diabetes Study were presented at the 67th Japan Diabetes Society meeting in Tokyo and published in The Lancet.

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