Managing type 2 diabetes can be a huge challenge for a lot of people. And we’re not just talking about monitoring blood sugar and keeping on top of insulin levels.
Keeping on top of the medications you must take if you have type 2 diabetes is another story entirely, and it starts with knowing how to talk to your doctor about which medication you ought to be taking.
There isn’t just a one-size-fits-all drug for this condition. If one drug doesn’t keep diabetes under control, there are other options. But unless you’ve done your homework, it’s hard to know which is right (or wrong) for you.
For two frequently prescribed medications in particular, recent findings show that it’s a case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” These two common medications, once thought to be safe, have now been found to cause a whole other set of health issues.
There are other options to these dangerous drugs, yet doctors don’t often prescribe them for their patients.
But before we get to that, you’ll need some background on the “drug of choice” for type 2 diabetes.
Metformin – the first defense against diabetes
Metformin is usually the first drug prescribed to someone who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It helps reduce the amount of sugar (glucose) a person absorbs from food. It also helps the body respond to insulin more quickly.
However, diabetes is not a condition conventional medicine “cures,” but instead controls, and over time, metformin becomes less effective and even stops working for many people.
There are several reasons for this.
When type 2 diabetes first develops, a person is insulin resistant. Their body makes insulin but does not use it effectively. Gradually, the body makes less insulin and can actually become insulin deficient.
Changes in weight, activity level or diet can also affect blood sugar. In fact, enough weight loss and exercise can certainly keep type 2 diabetes from progressing — and even reverse it. But the opposite can fuel the disease, making a “second string” of medications necessary.
And here is where the problem begins.
“This calls for a paradigm shift”
Dr. Matthew O’Brien is the lead author of a study that has blown the lid off the dangers of two commonly prescribed diabetes drugs.
Dr. O’Brien is assistant professor of general internal medicine and geriatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His observational study used data from 132,737 patients with type 2 diabetes who were starting second-line treatment.
More than half (sixty percent) of patients nationwide who need second-line treatment are prescribed either sulfonylureas or basal insulin. Yet patients who take these two drugs are more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular events.
“According to our findings,” says Dr. O’Brien, “we only have to prescribe basal insulin to 37 people over two years to observe one cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or amputation.”
“For sulfonylureas, that number was a bit higher – 103 people. But when you apply these numbers to 30 million Americans with diabetes, this has staggering implications for how we may be harming many patients.”
However, newer classes of second-line diabetes drugs do exist, known as GLP-1 agonists, SGLT-2 inhibitors and DPP-4 inhibitors. According to Dr. O’Brien, doctors should strongly consider prescribing this class of drugs after metformin, rather than sulfonylureas or basal insulin.
However, they are not often prescribed.
They are much more expensive than the drugs that cause heart attacks. Seems that in order to avoid a heart attack, you have to shell out more cash.
What you can do now
If you or someone you love is taking metformin for type 2 diabetes, it’s only a matter of time before they will need a second-line drug. Know your options or help your loved one get the information they need.
One thing you could consider is working hard to reverse the disease. A study published in the Lancet revealed a treatment that reversed type 2 diabetes successfully in a group of participants who followed a strict low-calorie diet.
And don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor NOW, before it’s time. Don’t be afraid to share what you know, and ask for the drug you need.
Talk to your insurance company and pharmacist now as well to find out what the costs and coverage are for the safer class of drugs.
Editor’s note: The truth is there are lots of proven and effective, natural and alternative ways to turn type 2 diabetes around. To discover them all, click here for Forbidden Secrets From Nature’s Pharmacy to Reverse Diabetes and Blood Sugar Problems!
- Two Type 2 diabetes drugs linked to higher risk of heart disease — American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- Association of Second-line Antidiabetic Medications With Cardiovascular Events Among Insured Adults With Type 2 Diabetes — JAMA Network Open