An earlier and more aggressive approach is needed in people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in order to reduce the escalating number of people diagnosed with the disease each year, according to a study published in the Lancet.
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise worldwide and unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles are to blame. People in the early stages of diabetes, known as pre-diabetes, who ignore important warning signs, such as elevated blood sugar, will most likely go on to develop the condition. Once someone develops type 2 diabetes, it is almost impossible to fully recover.
However, the recently published study suggested that if raised blood sugar levels in pre-diabetics were restored to normal then the number of patients who go on to develop the disease could be cut in half.
The six-year-long study followed 1,990 pre-diabetics, some of whom were being treated with drugs or lifestyle changes, and others who were not. Patients who reduced their blood sugar levels to normal, even briefly, were 56 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes over the course of the study. Experts call the findings clinically important.
An estimated 79 million Americans are pre-diabetic and at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Type 2 diabetes is almost always treated with medication. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) severely restricted the use of the type 2 diabetes drug Avandia after it was linked to fatal heart attacks. Actos, another drug from the same class of medications, was later connected to an increased risk for bladder cancer in patients who used the drug, especially long term.