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Plain-Language Guides Detail Insulin Treatments

U.S. agency compiles comparison of therapies for both doctors and patients

THURSDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- New "plain language" guides from the federal government spell out the differences between available treatments for type 2 diabetes for patients and doctors alike.

The guides, produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), compare and contrast newer premixed insulin analogues to conventional insulin (human insulin). The guides examine cost, side effects and the medication's effectiveness based on a patient's need.

The guides contain similar information on type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the body fails to make enough insulin or its cells ignore the insulin, and its treatments; however, the guide for clinicians helps doctors select the right medication to prescribe by rating the treatments based on published information and the patients' need.

According to the guides, premixed insulin analogues lower A1c (or glycated hemoglobin, a long-term measure of blood sugar levels) and post-meal blood sugar better than insulin analogues meant to last all day. Long-acting insulin analogues, however, do a better job of lowering fasting blood sugar levels and are less likely to cause hypoglycemia and excessive weight gain in users.

Conventional, or premixed human, insulin also lowers post-meal blood sugar better than the premixed analogues, but otherwise is similarly good at lowering A1c and fasting blood sugar levels, according to the guides. It also had similar records on causing hypoglycemia and weight gain.

More information

The guides are available at the AHRQ.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, news release, March 30, 2009

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