Saturday, January 21, 2006

Diabetes drug downside

People with type 2 diabetes are often prescribed drugs to boost their production of insulin. The controversial belief that these so-called sulfonylurea drugs increase mortality in patients with diabetes now gets support from a new study by researchers in Canada.

At higher daily doses, sulfonylurea-type drugs were associated with an increased risk of death.

"Clinicians should carefully assess the need for sulfonylurea therapy in subjects at high risk of cardiovascular events -- particularly now, when several other classes of antidiabetic oral medications are available," the investigators conclude.

Sulfonylureas promote insulin release by binding to potassium channels in pancreatic cells, keeping these channels closed. The possible link to cardiovascular risk? This class of drugs also binds to the same channels in cardiac muscle interfering with these cells' ability to withstand brief periods of ischemia.

"This evidence, taken within the context of observations collected over the last 30 years, suggests that clinicians should carefully assess the need for sulfonylurea therapy in subjects at high risk of cardiovascular events-particularly now, when several other classes of anti-diabetic oral medications are available."

One diabetic "medication" I like is the nonprescription "drug" exercise! A daily intake of exercise significantly lowers high glucose readings. And, a recent study indicates that it's STRENGTH TRAINING that provides the benefit.

In the 4 month study, a significant decline in Hb A1c (an important marker for diabetes control) was only observed in the strength training (6 sets per muscle group per week) group, but not the endurance training (3x per week for 30 minutes for) group. Blood glucose and insulin resistance improved significantly in the strength training group, whereas no significant changes were observed in the endurance training group.

The researchers concluded that strength training was more effective than endurance training in improving glycemic control.

So, no matter what medication you take (and you should talk to your doctor about the options), try adding exercise, especially strength training exercise, to your daily regimen.

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