Strict control of blood glucose levels across a number of years could prevent people with type 2 diabetes from developing heart problems, a new study suggests.
The results of this study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that this could reduce the risk of a heart attack, stroke or amputation by 17 per cent.
Researchers from the VA Centre for Clinical Management Research and the University of Michigan Medical School followed up roughly 1,800 people with type 2 diabetes. These people had enrolled in the Veterans Affair Diabetes Trial, where participants randomly had their blood sugar strictly controlled in one group, or less so in a second group.
The average A1C of participants in the intensive blood sugar control group was 6.9, while the average A1C in the standard care was 8.4. The reduced risk of heart problems in the intensive group was noted over a follow-up period of nearly 10 years.
However, researchers stressed that blood sugar control should be done alongside a good diet, regular exercise and a statin to control cholesterol.
“This finding reinforces the importance of combining good blood sugar control with control of other cardiovascular risk factors for a combined effect, especially controlling cholesterol and blood pressure,” said lead study author Rodney Hayward, M.D., of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and U-M.
Currently in the UK, only insulin-treated patients with type 2 diabetes are eligible for self-monitoring blood glucose testing strips from the NHS. This is otherwise decided on a case-by-case basis, with the NHS recently cost-cutting on diabetes self-monitoring during an intervention in London.
These findings could therefore be important in illustrating the benefits of blood glucose testing in type 2 diabetes patients, especially as research into these benefits is divisive.

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