It is even more important than previously believed that patients with diabetes accurately maintain their blood glucose levels at a normal, low level. Even small improvements can make a great difference in the long term. These are the conclusions of a thesis recently presented at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
The studies have been carried out by statistical analysis of patients’ records for patients at several diabetes clinics in western Sweden. A large American study is also included in the thesis. New statistical methods and extensive data collection have made it possible to analyse and study in detail the effects of treatments in a long-term perspective.
“Our results show that the risk of complications 10-15 years after the start of treatment probably decreases significantly following even small improvements in blood glucose control. If the treatment of all Swedish diabetes patients could be even slightly improved, we believe that tens of thousands of cases of injuries to the eyes, kidneys, heart, nerves and brain could be prevented”, says physician Marcus Lind, author of the thesis.
The thesis also shows by analysis of many patients’ records from diabetes clinics in western Sweden from the period 1996-2004 that modern insulins give better control of blood glucose levels than older insulins. The records for patients who changed during the period of study from the older types of insulin (known as “regular” and “NPH” insulin) to the more modern types of insulin glargin (distributed under the trade name “Lantus®”) and lispro (distributed under the trade name “Humalog®”) were analysed particularly carefully.
“The analysis shows that the long-acting insulin glargin gives patients in normal diabetes care better blood glucose control than they would have achieved if they had continued with the NPH insulin. Similarly, the rapidly acting insulin lispro gives better blood glucose control than the traditional regular insulin”, says Marcus Lind.
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