Long-Lasting Insulin Therapy Can Reduce Risk of Hypoglycemia Among Senior Diabetics

Megan Ray  |  July 11, 2012

Diabetes is an illness that affects a person's ability to produce insulin, which is used to process sugars in food and helps the body use them. When there is not enough insulin in the body, blood glucose levels can become too high, according to the American Diabetes Association, which is why diabetic individuals need insulin therapy.

However, if an individual takes their medication at the wrong time, or uses too much insulin, they may experience hypoglycemia, a condition in which blood glucose levels are too low. A senior living with diabetes may experience hypoglycemia, especially if they are sleeping and unable to treat the symptom. Researchers have been looking into a longer-lasting insulin treatment known as insulin degludec, which has shown to be more effective at preventing hypoglycemia in older individuals in clinical trials.

"Insulin degludec is a well-tolerated and appropriate therapy for elderly patients with diabetes, who are particularly vulnerable to low blood glucose levels," said lead author Dr. Christopher Sorli, chairman of the Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Billings Clinic. "Compared with insulin glargine, insulin degludec may offer considerable benefits by reducing the major side effect of insulin therapy, hypoglycemia."

In a trial study involving 915 diabetics over the age of 65, those who received insulin degludec treatments once a day for 26 or 52 weeks had a 35 percent lower rate of hypoglycemia than the individuals who were treated with glargine. Older adults living with diabetes may want to consult their physicians about elder care options for the disease.

Diabetes can cause blurred vision, fatigue and numbness in hands and feet, among other symptoms according to the ADA. It is important for a senior living with the illness to take precaution, as these symptoms increase the risk of falling. Diabetes can also lead to heart disease if healthcare is not a priority.

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