With the global prevalence of diabetes rising in the above 65-year-old age group, clinicians from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) have undertaken a study to help address some of the challenges associated with caring for these patients.
The six-month study, led by a group of physicians from the Department of Geriatric Medicine at Hamad General Hospital, investigated the effectiveness of medications in controlling the blood glucose levels of older adults with diabetes. It also examined medication use and prescribing patterns for diabetic patients of different age groups and the correlation to diabetes complications.
Dr Marwan Ramadan, senior consultant, Geriatric Medicine, said the study, entitled ‘Evidence-based Diabetes Management in Elderly’, involved around 150 individuals with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. He noted that in the context of Qatar, risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes had been previously examined by researchers but said there was an opportunity for additional study into how the disease is treated, and specifically medication regimes, among a wider group of older adults with diabetes.
Dr Navas Nadukkandiyil, associate consultant, Geriatric Medicine, explained that medication use among older diabetics of different age groups showed that combination therapy (treatment using more than one medication), was found to be more effective in attaining the target HbA1c among diabetics aged 65 years to 74 years.
“We found there were three anti-diabetic medications most commonly prescribed to older adults. Additionally, our data suggests that standard treatment guidelines were followed properly among the older diabetic population in Qatar,” said Dr Nadukkandiyil.
Dr Ramadan noted the study is significant as its findings have the potential to positively affect the quality of life and life expectancy of older adults with diabetics. He said this is noteworthy as elderly persons with diabetes are more severely affected by the acute and chronic complications of the disease.
Prof Abdul Badi Abou Samra, director of the Qatar Metabolic Institute and chairman of Internal Medicine at HMC, said the study was important as it showed these medications are indeed useful for the elderly and can result in better diabetes control than traditional medications.
“Selecting diabetes medication for the elderly requires a good balance between therapeutic targets and side effects, particularly, hypoglycemia. The elderly are very sensitive to hypoglycemia and the newer diabetes medications that do not cause hypoglycemia provide a special benefit for this group,” said Prof Abou Samra.
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