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For the Chapter in the Schwinghammer, Handbook (not Wells Handbook anymore) please go to Chapter 19, Diabetes Mellitus.



  • imageDiabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disorder. While there are numerous etiological causes, defects in insulin secretion, insulin action (sensitivity), or both lead to elevations in blood glucose as well as altered fat and protein metabolism.

  • imageDM is a leading cause of eye and kidney disease. Patients with DM are at high risk for CV events, heart failure, and atherosclerotic disease.

  • imageThe two most common classifications of DM are type 1 (absolute insulin deficiency) and type 2 (relative insulin deficiency due to β-cell dysfunction coupled with insulin resistance). They differ in clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and treatment approach.

  • imageThe prevalence of type 2 DM has doubled worldwide over the last 40 years. This has been attributed to an alarming increase in the prevalence of obesity due to diminished physical activity and increased caloric consumption.

  • imageThe diagnosis of diabetes is made using any of the following criteria: (1) fasting plasma glucose (FPG) ≥126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) (2) a hemoglobin A1C (A1C) ≥6.5% (0.065; 48 mmol/mol Hb); (3) a random plasma glucose level ≥ 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) coupled with classic symptoms of diabetes; or (4) a 2-hour plasma glucose ≥ 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) during a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). A diagnosis using criteria 1-3 require two abnormal test results from the same sample or in two separate test samples.

  • imageGoals of therapy in DM are to achieve optimal glycemic control (based on age, comorbid conditions, and patient preferences), reduce the onset and progression of diabetes-related complications, aggressively address CV risk factors, and improve quality of life.

  • imageIntensive glycemic control prevents the onset and slows the progression of microvascular complications (eg, neuropathy, retinopathy, and nephropathy).

  • imageKnowledge of the patient’s meal patterns and activity levels as well as the pharmacologic properties of antihyperglycemic agents is essential to creating an individualized treatment plan that achieves optimal glycemic control, avoids hypoglycemia, and minimizes adverse effects.

  • imageMetformin is the drug of choice and, in the absence of contraindications or intolerability, should be included in the treatment regimen for most patients with type 2 DM due to its effectiveness, low risk of hypoglycemia, positive or neutral effects on weight, potential positive impact on CV risk, and low cost.

  • imageType 2 DM often requires the use of multiple therapeutic agents (combination therapy) including oral and injected antihyperglycemics to achieve and maintain optimal glycemic control. A persistent decline in β-cell function over time often necessitates periodic adjustment and changes in therapy.

  • imageInsulin therapy is required in type 1 DM. Intensive basal-bolus insulin therapy or continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion therapy (aka an insulin pump) in motivated individuals is more likely to achieve optimal glycemic control. Basal-bolus therapy includes a long-acting insulin to address fasting glucose and a rapid-acting insulin for mealtime coverage. The ...

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