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Intensive Glucose-Lowering Therapy in Diabetes

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SBU Assessment

Presents a comprehensive, systematic assessment of available scientific evidence for effects on health, social welfare or disability. Full assessments include economic, social and ethical impact analyses. Assessment teams include professional practitioners and academics. Before publication the report is reviewed by external experts, and scientific conclusions approved by the SBU Board of Directors.

Published: Report no: 196


  • Intensive insulin therapy for type 1 diabetes is demanding for health services and the patient alike, but reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease and substantially reduces the risk for damage to the retina, kidneys, and nerves. The risk is increased for serious hypoglycemia, which places the greatest limitation on treatment. In many patients, successful intensive therapy should reduce diabetes complications in the long term. Treatment is cost effective.
  • In newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, intensive glucose-lowering therapy helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and serious damage to the retina of the eye. Treatment is relatively simple, and the risks for side effects are small. Successful intensive therapy of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes should reduce such complications in the long term. Treatment is cost effective.
  • In patients who have had type 2 diabetes for 5 to 10 years, or longer, the benefits of intensive glucose-lowering therapy are not uniformly greater than the risks, and the cost effectiveness is not clear. The risk for kidney damage is somewhat reduced. Studies present conflicting findings regarding the risk for cardiovascular diseases. It is important to individualize the treatment goals for these patients and balance the risks of side effects (eg, serious hypoglycemia) against the risks of late diabetes complications, which increase with the rise in HbA1c. New studies with longer follow-up are urgently needed in this patient group.

How to cite this report: SBU. Intensive glucose-lowering therapy in diabetes. Stockholm: Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU); 2009. SBU report no 196 (in Swedish).

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