Older people with diabetes want more aggressive blood sugar control, but it can be harmful

In a new study, researchers found elderly people with type 2 diabetes want more medications and more aggressive control of blood sugar.

The findings show that many older adults with diabetes when deciding to stop diabetes medicines, don’t value factors recommended to individualize diabetes treatment.

Instead, they voted in the opposite direction than the suggested American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines.

The researchers suggest doctors need to give recommendations for fewer medications and less aggressive treatment of high blood sugar to protect these patients’ health.

The research was conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists.

An estimated 30 million adults in the United States are living with type 2 diabetes, a condition marked by the body’s inability to produce enough or properly use insulin to regulate glucose, a main source of energy for cells.

While weight loss, good diet, exercise, and medications can control high blood sugar levels, treatment guidelines developed by the ADA and other professional groups are designed to be adjusted as people age, life expectancy shortens, and such factors as drug side effects, treatment compliance and quality of life issues play different roles.

In the study, the team found many senior patients, 65 years or older, with type 2 diabetes perceive their treatment plans much differently than do their care providers, and may be more likely to choose a more aggressive treatment plan than what guidelines recommend.

The aggressive treatment poses greater risk for complications, injury or even death.

In addition, many patients especially did not agree with recommendations to stop medicine.

The team says the current American Diabetes Association guidelines for managing type 2 diabetes aren’t intuitive to patients, and doctors need to do a better job helping them understand the benefits and consequences of making changes to treatment regimens.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine.

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