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  • New Standards Call for Less Intensive Blood Pressure Goals for People With Diabetes

    The American Diabetes Association is recommending changes in blood pressure goals for people with diabetes and clarifying how frequently people with type 1 diabetes should test their blood glucose levels.

    The revised recommendations include raising the treatment goal for high blood pressure from <130 mm Hg to <140 mm Hg, based on several new meta-analyses showing there is little additional benefit to achieving the lower targets. Clinical trials have demonstrated health benefits to achieving a goal of <140 mm Hg, such as reducing cardiovascular events, stroke, or nephropathy, but limited benefit to more intensive blood pressure treatment, with no significant reduction in mortality or nonfatal heart attacks. There is a small but statistically significant benefit in terms of reducing risk of stroke, but at the expense of a need for more medications and higher rates of side effects.

    The new standards also clarify when people who are taking multiple daily doses of insulin (MDI) or using insulin pumps, typically those who have type 1 diabetes, should test their blood glucose levels. Previously, the standards called for those taking insulin to test "3 or more" times throughout the day, a recommendation that was sometimes misinterpreted to mean that 3 times per day was sufficient. Recognizing that the frequency of testing will differ by individual and by situation, the new standards do not specify the number of times that testing should occur but instead focus on the conditions under which testing should occur. For example, the standards now specify that patients on MDI or insulin pumps should test prior to meals and snacks, occasionally after eating, at bedtime, before exercise, when they suspect low blood glucose, after treating low blood glucose levels until they return to normal, and "prior to critical tasks such as driving."

    Additionally, the new standards highlight that for patients on less intensive regimens or noninsulin therapies, self-monitoring of blood glucose needs to be linked to educating the patient about how to use the information about glucose levels appropriately. These patients must also be educated about how frequently they need to test and under what conditions.

    The new guidelines will be published in a special supplement to the January issue of Diabetes Care as part of the association's revised Standards of Medical Care, which are updated annually to provide the best possible guidance to health care professionals for diagnosing and treating adults and children with all types of diabetes. The standards are based upon the most current scientific evidence, which is reviewed by the association's multidisciplinary Professional Practice Committee.

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