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Studies Differ on Benefits of Aggressive Blood Sugar Control
Date:6/7/2008

But experts say controlling glucose levels is key for most diabetics

FRIDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Two studies looking at the benefits of aggressively lowering blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes have come to significantly different conclusions: One study found a 21 percent reduced risk for kidney disease, while the other found a 22 percent increased risk of death.

However, the first study found no increased risk of death by aggressively lowering blood sugar levels. And diabetes experts noted that the increased death risk found in the second study probably owed to the fact that the participants were "high-risk patients" -- more than one-third had suffered a heart attack or stroke before the trial began and the remainder had major cardiovascular risk factors. So the findings wouldn't apply to most people with type 2 diabetes, they note.

Both studies were presented Friday at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in San Francisco, and will be published in the June 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The goal of both studies was to lower blood sugar levels through the aggressive use of drug therapy. In the second study, the goal was to reach an A1C level of less than 6 percent in the intensive therapy group, while the standard group goal was between 7 percent and 7.9 percent. When the U.S.-government sponsored trial was terminated 18 months early in February, the median A1C was 6.4 percent in the intensive group, compared to 7.5 percent in the standard group. A1C is a measure of blood glucose over the previous two to three months.

In the first study, called ADVANCE (Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease), researchers found that among those who underwent intensive blood sugar control, there was a 21 percent reduced risk of developing kidney disease.

"Intensive glucose control significantly reduces serious vascular complications in diabetes,
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