Patients on Type 2 diabetes drugs may experience dangerously low blood sugar despite lack of disease control, study finds

OAKLAND, Calif. — Some patients with Type 2 diabetes taking drugs to lower blood sugar may experience a greater drop than is healthy for them even though their disease may not be under control, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers at Kaiser Permanente and Yale University and published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that patients taking diabetes drugs experienced severe low blood sugar, or severe hypoglycemia, despite their disease not being well-controlled at the same time. According to the study, nearly 11% of the more than 9,000 study participants with Type 2 diabetes taking drugs to lower blood sugar experienced severe hypoglycemia in the prior year, regardless of their level of blood sugar control.

While low blood sugar can be treated with food or a sweet drink, severe hypoglycemia can result in dizziness, confusion, injury, coma or even death. Patients with the condition may also be at higher risk of dementia, falls, fractures and heart attacks.

"Many clinicians may assume that hypoglycemia is not much of a problem in poorly-controlled Type 2 diabetes given their high average blood-sugar levels," Kaiser Parmanente investigator and lead study author Andrew Karter said. "This study suggests that we should pay much closer attention to hypoglycemia, even in poorly-controlled patients."

 

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