Benefits of Keeping Your Blood Sugar in Normal Range

For years, doctors believed that controlling blood sugar levels would decrease the risk of diabetes problems. However, it was not until the 1990's that they got proof. Two studies were done. The first one was called The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT)*. The second was the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS). Both studies showed that lowering blood sugar did decrease the risk of diabetes problems.

The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial In 1993, the results of the DCCT were made available. This study involved people that had type 1 diabetes. There were two different groups. One group received "standard treatment." The goal for this group was clinical well-being. The second group received "intensive treatment." The goal of this group was to keep blood sugar levels in normal range.

During the study, the intensive group was not able to achieve normal blood sugar levels. The average blood sugar was 155 mg/dL. The average A1c was 7.2%. In spite of this, the results were dramatic.

This is what was found:

  • The intensive group had: A 60% decrease in small blood vessel problems; Eye disease decreased by 76%; Kidney disease decreased by 35-56%; Nerve disease decreased 60%.
  • By lowering blood sugar levels, the study showed a delay in the onset of the above problems.
  • The study also showed when blood sugar levels were in range it slowed further progression of problems.
  • The standard group did not achieve the above goals.

The Kumamoto Study and the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) Doctors believed that lowering blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes would have the same results as the DCCT. They did not have the proof until the results were published in 1998. It compared treatment with diet and pills to standard treatment of diet alone. Another aspect of the study looked at "tight" versus "less tight" control of high blood pressure.This helped determine the benefits of lowering blood pressure.

This is what they found:

  • From an average starting A1c of 9.1%, the intensive group was able to reach an average A1c of 7.0%.
  • The standard group reached an A1c of 7.9%.
  • Blood vessel problems were decreased by 25% in the intensive group.
  • The intensive group also had a 16% decrease in the risk for heart attack and sudden death from heart disease.
  • Lowering blood pressure lowered the risk of stroke, diabetes related deaths, heart failure, vision loss and small blood vessel problems.

The UKPDS study showed that by lowering blood sugar levels patients decreased their risk of diabetes problems.

How can you become well-focused?

  • Work with your doctor to set blood sugar goals.
  • Practice self-management of your diabetes.
  • Work with your team to control blood pressure.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Have regular health check-ups.
  • Use diet, medicines and exercise to meet these goals.

How can your doctor help you?

  • Your doctor can help by working with you to set blood sugar goals and referring you to a diabetes educator and a dietitian to help you meet your goals.
  • Your doctor can also help you find local resources to address other risk factors.

*Diabetes Care Volume 37, Supplement 1, January 2014 S24 2 http://cure.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/suppl_1/S28.full Accessed 2/6/14