Diabetes in the Elderly

Friday, September 30, 2016

As the population of the United States ages, there has been a proportional rise in rate of diabetes among the elderly. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about diabetes in the elderly in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

About 11 million Americans age 65 years or older have diabetes. Most have type 2 diabetes, which is associated with overweight and obesity.

High blood sugar levels put people at risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, vision and nerve problems, skin ulcers and infections.

People with diabetes should exercise and make changes in their diet. Many also take pills or insulin to lower their blood sugar levels. Lowering blood sugar levels to achieve a hemoglobin A1c level of 7.5 percent reduces the chances of complications.

However, in older people, the health benefits of lowering HbA1c levels to below 7.5 percent are uncertain. This is especially true for people with several medical problems. Worse, low blood sugar levels can cause harm in some people.

Aiming for HbA1c levels below 7.5 percent increases the risk for hypoglycemia, which can result in confusion, coma, falls, fractures, abnormal heart rhythms and even death.

It is important to talk to your health care clinician and discuss which treatment is right for you.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.