Only One in Three Older Americans Has Diabetes Controlled

Too many older Americans are falling short when it comes to their diabetes care, according to a new study.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that only one in three Americans over the age of 65 have their diabetes under control - which could lead to long-term health complications and early death.

The report, which was published in Diabetes Care, also found that women of color were much more likely to have poor blood sugar control than white women, suggesting there are gender and ethnic disparities when it comes to diabetes management, too.

Overtreated or undertreated?

According to Elizabeth Selvin, study leader and professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School, physicians and medical professionals often disagree about how to care for older adults with diabetes.

"There is tremendous debate about appropriate clinical targets for diabetes in older adults, particularly for glucose control," Selvin said. "Are some older adults being overtreated? Are some being undertreated? These are questions for which we don’t have answers.”

One factor that might explain why older adults have poor diabetes control is that they are simultaneously dealing with other health conditions that become the priority, leaving blood sugar to suffer.

Yet overtreating older patients with too many drugs or high doses of these drugs can cause dangerously low blood glucose or blood pressure.

“There is a question in this field of how much good we are doing as opposed to harm when we try to tightly control diabetes in older people, because the treatments are not benign in older adults,” said study co-author Christina M. Parrinello.

The researchers said more studies are needed to determine safe glucose control targets for older adults with diabetes, and that patients should be treated on a highly individualized basis.

Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Image courtesy of Toa55/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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