Australian researchers reported that aggressively treating diabetes does not prevent heart problems and deaths.
It’s the second large study, involving thousands of patients, to show no heart benefit from drastically lowering diabetics’ blood glucose levels. Experts said doctors should stick to the recommended target levels.
Heart disease is the cause of death for two-thirds of diabetics. Researchers tried pushing blood sugar down to near-normal levels to see if that would protect the hearts of high-risk patients with Type 2 diabetes.
But the Australian study showed no difference in the number of heart attacks, strokes and heart-related deaths between groups who got intensive or standard care. A U.S. study that was stopped earlier this year also showed no benefit and in addition reported an unexplained higher number of deaths among those who were aggressively treated.
Both studies are important contributions to the field but do not provide a definitive answer.
Instead of trying aggressive measures, experts say there should be more focus on other strategies known to lower heart risks — diet, exercise and medications such as aspirin, cholesterol-lowering statins and blood pressure drugs.