Taking diabetes medications as prescribed, exercising and managing weight

June 13, 2017, Kaiser Permanente

People with diabetes who took their medications at least 80 percent of the time and people who exercised four or more times per week were at lower risk for poorly controlled blood sugar, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits.

The study also finds that people who were clinically obese were at higher risk for poorly controlled .

Poorly controlled sugar can lead to complications including kidney disease, retinal damage, heart disease, hospitalization and death, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The ADA estimates that about 29 million Americans have diabetes, and according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 21 percent of adults with diabetes have poorly controlled blood sugar.

The study, which included nearly 20,000 from Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Southwest Washington, is novel because researchers were able to track using Kaiser Permanente's unique electronic health record system, which includes pharmacy refill data. Many prior studies relied on asking patients if they took their medications, which is less reliable than patients' medical records.

"Our physicians can look at a patient's electronic medical record and quickly see how often patients are refilling their diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure medications. If patients are refilling medications when they're supposed to, they're also likely taking them when they're supposed to," said David Mosen, PhD, lead author and investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. "During office visits we also ask patients if they are exercising and then enter this information into their medical record."

"It's not that people are willfully not taking their medications, they just forget," said Harry Glauber, MD, co-author and endoctrinologist with Kaiser Permanente. "There's so much focus on new drugs and new technologies to improve , but our study shows we could likely improve outcomes if we help patients do these three things: take their medications as prescribed, increase their exercise and manage their weight."

Researchers examined several lifestyle and demographic factors to determine which were most closely associated with poorly controlled blood sugar. They found that members who took their oral diabetes medications at least 80 percent of the time were 46 percent less likely to have poorly controlled blood sugar, compared to those who took their medications less than 80 percent of the time. Members who exercised four or more times a week were 25 percent less likely to have poorly controlled blood sugar, compared to members who exercised three or fewer times per week.

Researchers also found that people who were clinically obese (a or BMI of 30 or more) were 18 percent more likely to have poorly controlled blood sugar, compared to those who were not obese.

African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities were also more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have poorly controlled blood sugar. These differences remained even after adjusting for adherence and other lifestyle factors, according to the researchers.

Explore further: Severe hypoglycemia linked to increased risk of death in people with diabetes

Related Stories

Severe hypoglycemia linked to increased risk of death in people with diabetes

March 10, 2017
A single instance of blood sugar falling so low as to require an emergency department visit was associated with nearly double the risk of cardiovascular disease or death, finds a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Health system factors improve medication adherence among seniors with diabetes

March 17, 2015
Specific system-level factors controlled by health care systems - including prescriptions with a medication supply greater than 90 days, mail-order pharmacy use, and lower copayments and out-of-pocket maximums - nearly doubled ...

Diabetes patients do better after surgery when their blood sugar is managed by pharmacists

October 27, 2015
A pharmacy-led glycemic control program is linked to improved outcomes for surgical patients with diabetes and those who develop stress-induced hyperglycemia or high blood sugars as a result of surgery, according to a new ...

Severe low blood sugar occurs often in patients with Type 2 diabetes

July 30, 2013
Patients with diabetes who take certain types of medications to lower their blood sugar sometimes experience severe low blood sugar levels, whether or not their diabetes is poorly or well controlled, according to a new study ...

Personal health record associated with improved medication adherence

January 6, 2014
Patients with diabetes who used an online patient portal to refill medications increased their medication adherence and improved their cholesterol levels, according to a new study in the journal Medical Care.

Blood pressure, cholesterol most important indicators of heart disease risk in diabetics

January 28, 2013
For people with diabetes, meeting the recommended guidelines for blood pressure and cholesterol is even more important than meeting the guidelines for blood sugar control in reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke, according ...

Recommended for you

Women with pregnancy-related diabetes may be at risk for chronic kidney disease

May 21, 2018
Gestational diabetes may predispose women to early-stage kidney damage, a precursor to chronic kidney disease, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. The study appears ...

Diabetes researchers find switch for fatty liver disease

May 17, 2018
Duke researchers have identified a key fork in the road for the way the liver deals with carbohydrates, fats and protein. They say it could be a promising new target for combating the pandemics of fatty liver disease and ...

New study of youth with type 1 diabetes connects 'honeymoon period' with lower LDL cholesterol

May 17, 2018
A new study by UMass Medical School physician-scientist Benjamin U. Nwosu, MD, finds that children with type 1 diabetes who experienced a partial clinical remission, or "honeymoon phase," had significantly lower low-density ...

"Living drug factories" may one day replace injections

May 17, 2018
Patients with diabetes generally rely on constant injections of insulin to control their disease. But MIT spinout Sigilon Therapeutics is developing an implantable, insulin-producing device that may one day make injections ...

Boosting the effects of vitamin D to tackle diabetes

May 10, 2018
More than 27 million people in the United States are living with type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the population ages and a growing percentage of people become overweight or ...

Very-low-carb diet shows promise in type 1 diabetes

May 7, 2018
Very-low-carbohydrate diets can improve blood sugar control in type 1 diabetes, with low rates of hypoglycemia and other complications, according to an online patient survey. The researchers, led by Belinda Lennerz, MD, PhD, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.