Intensive Glucose Control for Diabetes
A new study shows that intensely controlling your diabetes may not be all that helpful.
While some doctors have been advocating for very strict blood glucose targets for diabetics, new research is showing that while it does reduce short term heart attack risk, the long term benefits may be limited.
More relaxed glucose targets for diabetics are nearly as good, if not just as good, compared to the most stringent glucose targets when it comes to long term benefits and mortality.
Researchers put patients into two groups, one of which aimed for an HBA1c of 8-9%, the standard therapy group, and another that aimed for an HBA1c of 6.5%.
Volunteers in the strict glucose control group were asked to strictly control their blood glucose for the first three years of the study.
They then followed all patients for 15 years to see whether strictly controlling blood glucose has any long-term benefits to cardiovascular disease rates and overall mortality.
Effect of Glucose Control on Heart Disease
They found that in terms of heart attacks, patients who were assigned to more stringently control their glucose did indeed have a low risk of heart attack during the period in which they were monitored, as shown in the chart above.
However, as soon as the patients were off of the study and the strict program, the risk returned to normal.
This shows that intensive glucose control does reduce heart attack risk in the short term, when patients are actively engaged in it. However, it does not carry long term benefits for cardiovascular disease risk.
Intensive Glucose Control & Mortality
In terms of heart disease mortality, researchers found even fewer benefits. Volunteers with strict glucose targets did not have significantly different rates of cardiovascular mortality than patients who were assigned to normal glucose targets.
As shown in the chart above, even during the course of the study, the difference is mortality rates between the groups was small.
Intensive Glucose Control & Health Outcomes
In the short term, when patients closely stuck to their strict glucose targets, there was a statistically significant reduction in heart attack rates. This shows that there is some benefit and strictly controlling your glucose in the short run.
However, there were no statistically significant long-term benefits to a stringent glucose target.
Keys to Health
This data confirms that a strict glucose target can be beneficial if you stick to it. Sticking to a strict glucose target likely reduces your risk of a heart attack.
However, in the long run, a less strict glucose target may be nearly as good as a strict glucose target. If you are diabetic, be sure to talk to your doctor about how best to manage your blood sugar.