, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 1-16,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 27 Nov 2012

Glycemic Control: A Combination of Lifestyle Management and the Use of Drugs


Some 30% of contemporary cardiology patients have coexisting known diabetes, and another 40% have either undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes. There is still no final conclusive evidence of cardiovascular benefit by good glycemic control in type 2 diabetes, although studies like the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) and the Prospective Pioglitazone Clinical Trial in Macrovascular Events, and meta-analyses based on these and other randomized controlled trials of blood glucose-lowering therapies have been encouraging. On the other hand, microvascular disease is clearly reduced by good glycemic control. Structured education has remained a mandatory prerequisite of any successful treatment. Not only is appropriate weight management by diet and exercise able to revert new onset diabetes to normal, but it is also the foundation of any successful pharmacotherapy of diabetes. Aiming at normal fasting plasma glucose concentrations of 5.3 mmol/L or 95 mg/dL appears to be safe since publication of the long-term outcome results of the Outcome Reduction with an Initial Glargine INtervention trial. Individualized target glycosylated hemoglobin levels as near to normal as safely possible (i.e., <7% and avoiding hypoglycaemia) are the goal for glycemic control. Hypoglycemia seems to emerge as a real concern in cardiology patients. Based on the findings of UKPDS, including the “legacy” study, metformin is the most widely recommended first-line drug therapy in type 2 diabetes, also in terms of preventing cardiovascular complications. An alternate first-line option in some parts of the world, especially Asian countries, is the class of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. In most patients, combination therapies with two or three classes of drugs are warranted. Early combination are the golden strategy as type 2 diabetes is a multi-causal disease; the various classes of drugs have distinct and synergistic modes of action, and the blood glucose-lowering efficacy of these drugs is more or less fully maintained in combination. The recent joint American Diabetes Association/European Association for the Study of Diabetes position statement mentions five options as step two of the treatment algorithm for combination with metformin: sulfonylureas, pioglitazone, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists, and basal insulin.