Intensive blood sugar control - dangerous in type 2 diabetes?You may have seen the news about changes in the ACCORD Trial. This is a clinical study of adults with type 2 diabetes who are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
Some of the people in the trial were following an intensive approach to managing their blood sugar. The aim was to keep their A1C results below 6%. Others in the trial were following a 'standard treatment' with a target A1C between 7% and 7.9%. This second range is much closer to what most people with type 2 diabetes achieve.
Over 10,00 people were taking part in the trial. Over about a four year period 257 people in the intensive group died, compared to 203 people in the standard treatment group. This was equivalent to 3 additional deaths per 1,000 participants per year. And both of these death rates were lower than similar populations in other studies.
About half of the additional deaths were due to cardiovascular disease, the rest were from other issues such as cancer. But it's not clear why these happened.
Because of safety concerns about this increase, the NHLBI who sponsors the trial has decided to stop using the intensive treatment approach and have all participants use the standard one with it's less demanding A1C goals.
If you want more information about the trial and what has changed, the NHLBI has an excellent FAQ page.
And remember, if you have type 1 diabetes, these findings don't apply to you. You should still aim for the best blood glucose control you can safely achieve.
Update: Kelly Close of Close Concerns has a good blog post about this trial, it's also worth reading.
The ACCORD Trial has its own web site, which gives more details about what the study was attempting to find out. From this page you can see that 5,128 people were in the intensive blood glucose control group and 5,123 people were in the standard blood glucose control group.
If you'd like to see other coverage of this situation across the diabetes internet, the diabetes search engine returns a lot of interesting hits for "ACCORD trial".