Intensive regimes to reduce blood sugar levels can substantially lower the risk of heart attacks in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to research published in The Lancet.
It reports the results of five trials showing that the risk is cut by a fifth, although it does not appear to affect the incidence of strokes or alter death rates.
The blood molecule haemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) is used to measure blood-sugar levels. It is between 4% and 5% in healthy individuals, but often exceeds 6.5% in diabetics.
The trials showed that patients on standard treatments maintained an average level of 7.5%, but that fell to 6.5% among those who underwent intensive treatment.
Type 2 diabetes is linked with lifestyle and affects more than two million people in the UK. In most cases, treatments increase levels of insulin or boost the body’s sensitivity to it.
Among patients taking part in the trials there were 1,497 heart attacks, 2,318 cases of heart disease and 1,227 strokes. Intensive treatment resulted in 17% fewer heart attacks and a 15% reduced risk of heart disease.