Harmful side effects of type 2 diabetes could be avoided by factoring in sex and body mass index

Harmful side effects of type 2 diabetes could be avoided by factoring in sex and body mass index

The harmful side effects of type 2 diabetes could be avoided by factoring in characteristics such as sex and body mass index (BMI), new research suggests.

Clinicians can match people with type 2 diabetes to the right drug to improve control of blood sugar and help avoid damaging side-effects, simply by factoring in characteristics such as sex and BMI into prescribing decisions.

The University of Exeter study, funded by the Medical Research Council, could dramatically reduce the risk of potentially harmful side-effects such as weight gain and hypoglycaemia, at no additional cost to the NHS.

Metformin is the first line of drug treatment in type 2 diabetes, but many patients eventually need additional drugs on top of Metformin to lower their blood sugar levels. Currently, clinicians make prescribing decisions on these additional drug options based on limited available guidance. Previous research from the Exeter team revealed there is great regional variation across the UK in the prescribing of these additional drugs.

The new study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, provides a starting point for a more evidence-based approach to the prescribing of drugs after Metformin. Based on a patient’s gender and BMI, the authors found important differences in the likely success of the commonly prescribed drugs sulfonylureas and thiazolidinediones in lowering blood sugar levels, and in the risk of common side effects.

Type 2 diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition where the insulin in your pancreas can’t work properly or doesn’t produce enough.

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