New York, Feb 7 (UNI) Lowering blood sugar to normal levels may increase risk of death in diabetics, a major Federal US study has found.
Researchers believed that maintaining blood sugar levels helps in decreasing fatalities in those with diabetes, but the study on 10,000 middle-aged and older people with Type 2 diabetes proved it to the contrary.
In view of the surprising results thrown by the study, researchers have halted it abruptly and advised patients to consult their doctors before effecting any changes in their medication.
During the study conducted over four years, it was found that 54 more deaths were reported from the group who were assigned to get their blood sugar levels to nearly normal than those whose levels were less rigidly controlled.
Experts, stunned over the findings, still maintain that blood sugar was not meaningless as lower levels prevent further complications like kidney disease, blindness and amputations. But, the findings hit at the decades-old dogma that lowering blood sugar levels to normal actually save lives.
It has sparked a debate among medical experts who have been studying the findings in the context of consequences it may have for younger people who have no cardiovascular disease and its management in those living with it.
''It's confusing and disturbing that this happened,'' president of American College of Cardiology James Dove was quoted by New York Times as saying.
''For 50 years, we've talked about getting blood sugar very low.
Everything in the literature would suggest this is the right thing to do,'' he added.
Dr Irl Hirsch, a diabetes researcher at the University of Washington, said the study's results would be hard to explain to some patients who have spent years and made an enormous effort, through diet and medication, getting and keeping their blood sugar down. They will not want to relax their vigilance, he said.
Most surprisingly, no drug or drug combination or any other unusual cause of death was reported in the intensely treated group during the study. For now, the reasons for higher death rate are up for speculation.
The study was proposed in the 1990s by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
''It is a great study and very well run. And it certainly had the right principles behind it,'' Dr Dove said.
''But maybe, there may be some scientific principles that don't hold water in a diabetic population,'' he added.
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