Gender and BMI could help avoid harmful side effects in Type 2 diabetes

Gender and BMI could help avoid harmful side effects in Type 2 diabetes

Factoring in simple characteristics such as sex and BMI can help clinicians make a decision on the correct drug to prescribe and improve control of blood sugar and help avoid damaging side effects of Type 2 diabetes, a new study reveals.

The study from the University of Exeter Medical School, UK, will substantially improve benefits of drugs for Type 2 diabetes, as well as reduce the risk of potentially harmful side-effects such as hypoglycaemia. All of which will cost the NHS nothing.

Following the first line of drug treatment, many patients eventually need additional drugs on top of the Metformin to lower blood sugar levels. Clinicians subsequently have to then make prescribing decisions with limited available guidance.

An evidence-based approach to drug prescription

Authors of the study found that gender and BMI are important differences in the success of commonly prescribed drugs sulfonylureas and thiazolidinediones in lowering blood sugar levels, and in the risk of common side effects.

This will provide a great starting point for a more evidence-based approach to prescribing drugs following the initial prescription of Metformin.

An example of this, according to a report on Exeter University’s website, is obese females were far more likely to have good blood glucose control on thiazolidinediones than sulfonylureas, while non-obese males had the opposite result, meaning they were far more likely to have good blood glucose control on sulfonylureas than thiazolidinediones.

Simplifying Type 2 diabetes treatment

Lead author on the study, John Dennis from University of Exeter Medical School, said “Our findings are important as they provide the first evidence that personalised or ‘precision’ medicine approaches in diabetes can be based on simple patient characteristics available to any doctor, rather than expensive genetics or other technology.

“This simple personalised approach could be implemented immediately within the NHS without any additional cost.

He continued: “The study is also a powerful demonstration of how the sharing of patient data can meaningfully benefit patients – in this case helping to make sure individual patients get the best drug for them.”

What does this mean for prescription procedure?

Professor Andrew Hattersley, consultant in Diabetes at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, as well as Professor at the University of Exeter Medical School said: “At the moment, clinicians are in the difficult position of making decisions that impact on health in type 2 diabetes based on very little evidence.

“Now, we can create clear guidelines to enable much more informed conversations about what these treatments will mean for people, in order to get better health outcomes and avoid harmful side effects.”

There are currently over 3.5 million people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the UK.


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