Health Benefits of Good Blood Sugar Control Confirmed by Research

Diabetics who are diligent about good blood sugar control can pat themselves on the back, knowing their efforts are paying off.

A new large study reveals that keeping blood glucose levels in check for several years can reduce a person's risk for heart failure, heart attack, stroke or amputations by 17 percent.

In general, people with diabetes are about twice as likely to be affected by a cardiovascular problem than non-diabetics, and two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

The study included 1,791 veterans with type 2 diabetes who were followed for 10 years after enrolling in the initial trial, where some patients were assigned assistance in achieving "tight" blood sugar control and others were assigned regular medical care.

The perfect A1C level?

Researchers also note that blood sugar may not need to be significantly low to see cardiovascular benefits.

"The authors concluded that a long-term average of about 8 on the measurement called A1C hemoglobin was enough to achieve most of the benefit, but that many patients can be safely lowered to around 7," a press release on the study stated.

According to lead study author Dr. Rodney Hayward, taking certain medications - like metformin - to help manage diabetes can enhance positive outcomes. However, the right A1C level should be based on the individual.

"Once someone has his or her A1C around 8 percent, we need to individualize treatment to the patient, balancing his or her individual cardiovascular risk based on personal and family history, his or her age and life expectancy, smoking history and medication side effects," Hayward said. "If you want to determine what the best A1C number is for you, and when should take another medication to lower it, you should decide with your doctor."

Sources: University of Michigan, American Diabetes Association
Image credit: duron123/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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