Serious hypoglycemia is rare in patients with type 2 diabetes

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Last Updated: 2001-07-10 17:16:03 EDT (Reuters Health)

By Michelle Chard

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) – While mild hypoglycemia is common among type 2 diabetes patients undergoing aggressive diabetes management, severe hypoglycemia is rare, according to a report in the July 9th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Imad M. El-Kebbi and colleagues, from Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of 1055 type 2 diabetes patients (mean age 61 years) in order to examine the prevalence and predisposing factors for hypoglycemia.

"Our main finding was that hypoglycemia is frequent in patients with type 2 diabetes undergoing intensive therapy, however, it appears to occur mainly in insulin-treated patients," Dr. El-Kebbi said in an interview with Reuters Health.

The team found that 11.8% of patients treated with diet alone had hypoglycemic symptoms, compared with 16.2% of those treated with oral agents alone and 30.5% of those treated with any insulin.

Only 0.5% of patients experienced severe hypoglycemia. "The majority of episodes of hypoglycemia were mild and self-treated by patients," Dr. El-Kebbi explained. "Therefore, hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes is not an absolute limiting factor in trying to achieve good glycemic control, and is to be expected."

"Concerns about hypoglycemia should not deter efforts to achieve tight glycemic control in most patients with type 2 diabetes," Dr. El-Kebbi and colleagues conclude. "Those patients who are younger or have a lower HbA1c level may be at higher risk for hypoglycemia and should be encouraged to be more diligent about meal planning, home monitoring of glucose levels, and symptom awareness."

Arch Intern Med 2001;161:1653-1659.

-Westport Newsroom 203 319 2700

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