Older diabetics may drift toward blood sugar that is too low

(Reuters Health) – Older diabetics may sometimes do too good a job at keeping their blood sugar down, according to a new study.

Regardless of age, people with diabetes are taught to keep their blood sugar below certain target levels. But many diabetics over 65 who have other health concerns may be at risk for pushing it too low, according to a new study.

Particularly for older adults with multiple serious illnesses and functional limitations, the risks of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, may outweigh the benefits of tight blood sugar control, the authors write.

“Older people are more susceptible to hypoglycemia,” said lead author Dr. Kasia J. Lipska of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

“As people age, their kidney function deteriorates and drugs (like insulin) may not be eliminated from the body as efficiently,” which can lead to low blood sugar, she told Reuters Health by email.

Often, people with low blood sugar don’t realize they have it. Symptoms can include double or blurry vision, rapid heartbeat, headache, hunger, shaking or trembling, sweating, tiredness or weakness or feeling faint, trouble sleeping, unclear thinking, and other problems. Severe low blood sugar can cause seizures and brain damage.

Intense diabetes treatment, which the study showed many older people are doing, increases the risk for hypoglycemia two to three fold, Lipska said. More

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