Sulphonylureas for Type 2 Raise Risk of Early Death

The researchers subtly state that “our findings suggest a relatively unfavorable risk profile of sulphonylureas compared to metformin”. What were the “findings”? – Significantly increased risk of death from all causes, and significantly higher congestive heart failure risk. The doctor’s disclosure to the patient should sound something like this, “This will lower your blood sugar but will probably kill you sooner that if we didn’t use it all.”

This class of drugs (under the generic glipizide or brand names Diabeta, Glynase, Micronase, Glucotrol and Amaryl) is known to increase insulin secretion while also lowering production of glucose in the liver. But risks of pancreatic burnout are well-known with this class of drugs. And like many drugs, one benefit may come with many detriments. It is also important to realize that people with type 2 diabetes don’t die of their diabetes; they die of heart disease, cancer, infection, or some other condition that is caused by the diabetes. So when a study comes along like this, and finds that despite a well-known sugar lowering effect from a common diabetes drug, the drug class is actually associated with an increased incidence of the very heart diseases that we are trying to prevent, my eyes are open.

Drug companies are pushing their established products toward the newly established Metabolic Syndrome diagnosis: Care must be given to HOW blood sugars are lowered. A proper assessment that looks at the overall process; how your unique genetic traits are currently interacting with your diet and lifestyle. Exercise, dietary and nutritional changes are the next step. And then, finding a way to measure progress – calipers for body fat percentage and location, TG:HDL ratios, HOMA-IR, blood sugar and A1C levels are all to be looked at together—Your Blood Code.

Ioanna Tzoulaki, Ioanna; “Risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality among patients with type 2 diabetes prescribed oral antidiabetes drugs: retrospective cohort study using UK general practice research database” BMJ 2009; 339:b4731.