Diabetes is a serious health condition for older patients and maintaining the sugar control is really important. Using several treatment procedures, like insulin jabs, we are able to save many lives.
But in older patients with multiple health problems, the aggressive controlling of blood sugar with insulin or sulfonylurea drugs could lead to over-treatment and cause a fatal health conditions called hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), according to new study.
The researchers at the Yale School of Medicine conducted a new study and found that many older diabetics received aggressive treatment for their disease irrespective of their health status as well as blood sugar levels.
The elderly people age 65 and older with diabetes could suffer a serious health condition called hypoglycemia that could cause confusion, coma, and even death in many cases.
Hypoglycemia is a well-known effect of tight blood sugar control. Moreover, it is a major cause of emergency visits to hospital. Its symptoms may appear subtle and elderly people may face trouble in their proper recognization.
Lead study author Dr. Kasia J. Lipska, of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, said, “Older people are more susceptible to hypoglycemia. As people age, their kidney function deteriorates and drugs such as insulin may not be eliminated from the body as efficiently which can lead to low blood sugar.”
For a cross-sectional study, the researchers involved 1,288 patients aged 65 and above with diabetes and analyzed their health records from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The researchers’ team closely studied glycemic control levels recorded in NHANES from 2001 to 2010.
Based on their health status, the participants were grouped into three categories — Very complex/Poor, Complex/Intermediate and Relatively healthy. Notably, the blood sugar was considered controlled if it dropped below seven percent. It was found that nearly 62 percent of the participants had their blood sugar levels less than seven percent and the figure remained same across health status.
Moreover, 55 percent of those patients were treated with either insulin or sulfonylureas drugs.
“We should use an individualized therapy approach while treating older people with diabetes. Older diabetics who are relatively healthy may benefit if they are treated in a similar way to younger counterparts. But this approach might not work in older people who often have other health problems,” said Lipska.
Some of the other authors associated with the study were Yinghui Miao, Dr. Joseph S. Ross, Dr. Michael A. Steinman, Nilay D. Shah and Dr. Sei J. Lee.
Following have supported the study in part: The National Institute on Aging, the Pepper Center Career Development Award, the American Federation for Aging Research through the Paul B. Beeson Career Development Program, the Yale Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health.
The study’s findings were published in the January 12 issue of journal JAMA Internal Medicine.