What would happen if medical science could put a tight reign on blood glucose levels? Would it have a significant impact on those living with diabetes? If so, how would it help? A five-year study provides some interesting insight.
According to Voice of America (VOA), “The government-funded study is called ACCORD, which stands for Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes. The study included high-risk diabetes patients – typically older and obese, with a history of complications.”
Conventional medical wisdom has been that tight control of blood glucose is helpful in all phases of diabetic self-management. However the findings pointed in a different direction, “Some patients got medicine to aggressively reduce cholesterol or blood pressure or their blood sugar levels. They were compared with patients in a control group who got standard treatments.
“None of the aggressive treatments significantly reduced the risk of heart attacks, strokes, or other cardiovascular complications,” reported the VOA.
Voice of America cited ACCORD researcher William Cushman who said, “Our composite cardiovascular outcome of dying from cardiovascular events or having a non-fatal heart attack or a non-fatal stroke, that combined outcome was not significantly reduced.”
We have reported similar finding in the past, but this research did uncover a benefit that perhaps they had not anticipated from tight blood glucose control. The VOA report stated, “One positive outcome from the ACCORD study was evidence supporting ways to improve what doctors call diabetes patients’ microvascular conditions. The disease affects small blood vessels in a way that can damage nerves, kidneys and the eyes. So, Emily Chew of the National Eye Institute noted that aggressive lowering of blood sugar or cholesterol levels helped control the progression of eye disease.”
Since one of the major long-term symptoms of diabetes is blindness and retinopathy this is actually very significant. In many cases diabetics must undergo eye surgery to save their vision as diabetes progresses. This new information suggests it is possible to either delay or perhaps even stop the advance of retinopathy and blindness in diabetics through effective blood glucose control.
As we reported earlier the VOA report confirms yet again, “In another part of the ACCORD study, patients got intensive therapy to lower their blood sugar. After three and a half years, the group getting intensive therapy was switched into the control group, to standard therapy, because they were dying at a higher rate.”
Some researchers suggest that the study should be expanded to see what results might be seen in younger patients who live with diabetes. Perhaps, it is theorized, there can be positive results from very tight control when a patient is younger. The treatment could then be altered as they age.
What most are concluding from the new information found in recent editions of The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine is that tight blood glucose control may be problematic for those who are known to have cardiovascular issues. The same is true for those who have diagnosed kidney disease.
As medical science continues to explore the causes and control of diabetes more becomes known about the treatment of the disease. While this information is counter to general thought it can and should result in better long-term care for diabetic patients.
As with all of life working toward a better balance of control and outcome is the best-case scenario for diabetes.