For some adults over age 50 with type 2 diabetes, the burden of management, such as frequent insulin shots or an oral medication regimen, outweighs the benefits of treatment, according to a study by the University of Michigan Health System, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and University College London (UCL).
The study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, was based on a 20-year study of 5,102 people with type 2 diabetes in the United Kingdom. Researchers looked at the effectiveness of the diabetes treatments in preventing associated complications, such as kidney, eye and heart disease, and compared them with the increased risk of side effects and the lifestyle burden of taking pills or injections.
“A typical person with type 2 diabetes who begins treatment at age 45 and reduces the A1c by 1 percent may gain up to 10 months of healthy life. At age 75, they may gain as little as three weeks of healthy life. Whether this is worth 10 to 15 years of pills and injections with potential side effects is ultimately up to the patient,” said John S. Rudkin, emeritus professor of medicine at UCL, in a release.