What is The Most Effective Treatment for Diabetes?
Diabetes affects more than 1 in 10 adults in the United States, and the number is only growing—thousands of patients will be diagnosed this year, and most of these patients rely on medications in order to keep their blood sugar levels manageable.
The medications marketed for the treatment of diabetes allowed drug companies to rake in many billions of dollars, but it has become clear that the medications are not very effective against heart disease – the number one killer of diabetes patients.
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New Study Results Favor Fitness Over Medicine
New studies have been published that may undermine the trust many patients have in diabetes treatment medications. The studies, of which there are four, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010, and find that diabetes drugs are unlikely to reduce a patient’s risk of suffering serious problems associated with heart disease.
The studies looked at a variety of different medications that are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes, including anti-hypertensives (which are intended to lower systolic blood pressure below 120 mm, which is a healthy measurement) and medications intended to raise “good cholesterol” in patients who are taking statin medications, which significantly lower the levels of “bad” cholesterol.
The studies also examined two medications that were intended to help lower blood sugar levels in patents in which these levels are too high; no heart benefits were associated with this medication. None of the medications examined made an apparent difference in a patient’s risk of suffering heart attacks or strokes.
Prevention as a Treatment
Prevention of heart disease is a top priority of patients with diabetes and the physicians who treat these patients. This information can be disheartening, but there is also information about how diabetics can cut their risk of heart disease and other related health risks–and it seems the most effective solution may be as simple as diet and exercise. Evidence has shown that if patients increase their levels of activity while improving their nutrition and eating habits, they have a much better chance of cutting their risk of heart disease and other deadly diabetes-related complications than if they take diabetes treatment drugs.
Medicine Could do More Harm than Good
There is some indication that diabetes treatment medications could not only be ineffective at reducing patients’ risks, but could cause additional risks and complications. Some diabetes medications pose their own side effects. This is not to say that diabetes patients should not take medication–it will do much more good than harm for patients to take certain medications, which may include statin drugs and blood pressure medications, as recommended by their doctor.
Diet & Exercise as an Alternative Solution
Patients with diabetes should aim for a healthier lifestyle, including incorporating regular exercise into their daily activities and adding healthier, unprocessed foods into their diet. These changes could make a significant difference in the physical health of diabetes patients, and may even serve to reduce a patients’ reliance on diabetes medications.
Diabetes patients should always have regular visits to their doctor and should ask their doctor’s opinion on any changes they are making to their lifestyle. It may also be useful to talk to a physician about medication regimens and voice concerns about medications where they are relevant.