10 Things You Should Know About the Drugs Used to Treat Type 2 Diabetes

Since you don’t know what you don’t know, here are a few things you need to know about the drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes:

1. ALL of the drugs on the market today with indications for treatment/management of type 2 diabetes are to be used in conjunction with diet and exercise or after a fair trial of lifestyle changes have failed.

2. Less than 25% of all medical schools offer classes in nutrition and/or lifestyle counseling.

3. The drugs offer only microvascular protection (small vessel: think eyes, toes, penis, kidneys) from the damage of diabetes, except the new SGLT-2 inhibitors. Canagliflozin (Invokana) and empagliflozin (Jardiance) are the only agents that offer a very small amount of macrovascular protection (big vessel: think heart attack, stroke).

4. Lest you “ask your doctor if Invokana is right for you”, know that it INCREASES the risk of limb amputations two-fold! (I can’t make this stuff up, folks.)

5. If you’re taking a sulfonylurea (glimepiride, glipizide, glyburide), you’re 2.5x more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than someone using diet alone.

6. Five of the nine drug classes used to treat type 2 diabetes have the FDA’s strongest warning on them—the Black Box Warning—because of the potential of life-threatening adverse events.

7. Taking the drugs will, at best, merely manage your disease. At worst, the drugs could kill you.

8. Despite the Black Box Warnings, ALL the agents have the potential for causing significant damage in your body. Will everyone taking these agents experience all the possible side effects? No. But the potential is there.

9. Diet drinks push people into type 2 diabetes just as quickly as the high-fructose-filled drinks.

10. There are a number of commonly used prescription drugs that can also alter blood sugar to the point of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Here are a few: steroids, statins, bronchodilators, mood stabilizers, thiazide and loop diuretics, beta blockers, some anti-depressants, fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin and its cousins—these can cause severe LOW blood sugar, too).

Type 2 diabetes, a lifestyle disease, is reversible through lifestyle changes. It’s that simple. It’s not easy, but it is simple. I can help. Let's talk!

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