Vets Using Continuous Glucose Monitors to Treat Diabetes in Dogs

May 3rd, 2011

diabetes in dogsThe incidence of diabetes in dogs has risen 200 percent over the last thirty years. The symptoms of diabetes in dogs are similar to those in people, as is the treatment. A dog with type 1 diabetes must have its blood sugar monitored constantly, be exercised regularly, be fed low carbohydrate food, and be given insulin injections.

As in human diabetics, not all dogs with diabetes respond well to treatment. Thankfully, over the last few years, continuous glucose monitoring has revolutionized the ways vets manage diabetes in dogs. The glucose monitor is a small device that is inserted just under the dog's skin. To read more about the use of continuous glucose monitors in dogs with diabetes on Science Daily, >CLICK HERE<.

Scientists Discover Why Oral Diabetes Medication Causes Weight Gain

May 3rd, 2011

Thiazolidinediones, also known as glitazones, are a widely prescribed class of oral diabetes medications. The most commonly used thiazolidinedione is prescription Actos, also known as generic pioglitazone. Thiazolidinediones act by binding to a group of receptor molecules called PPAR-y which regulate the production of fat cells, improving their receptivity to insulin and therefore reducing insulin resistance.

Although effective, pioglitazone has a down side - one of Actos side effects is considerable weight gain. This is of particular concern to diabetics, many of whom have been instructed to lose weight to help control their condition.

Before this study, it was believed that weight gain in patients taking oral diabetes medication was due to PPAR-y's effect on fat cells. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have now discovered that the diabetes medication delivers a double-whammy. It not only stimulates the production of fat cells, it also causes changes in the part of the brain which effects appetite, increasing hunger.

The researchers also conducted experiments to see if the PPAR-y molecular system is activated by a high fat diet. Experiments with animals showed that to be the case. This suggests that Americans' fondness for high-fat foods that activate PPAR-y might be contributing to our rising rates of obesity, and the associated increase in diabetes.

According to lead researcher Randy Seeley, PhD, PPAR-y is a system designed to promote eating more and gaining weight. "It tells your brain to eat more, and it tells your fat tissue to add new fat cells to serve as repositories to store those extra calories," explains Seeley, a UC professor.

It's hoped that these discoveries may lead to modified diabetes medications that still lower blood sugar, but without impacting the part of the brain effecting appetite. "If you artificially turn on PPAR-y, you can increase food intake in rats," explained Seeley, "[But] if you block these receptors in animals on high fat diets that make animals obese, they gain less weight."

Seeley stresses the importance of understanding how what we eat affects our bodies. "We know that one way to activate PPAR-y is by exposing cells to fatty acids," he points out, "If we know which ones activate PPAR-y, we could find ways to alter diets so as to limit their ability to turn on this system that drives increased food intake, making it easier for people to avoid weight gain."

FDA Approves New Type 2 Diabetes Medication

May 4th, 2011

diabetes medicationThe FDA has approved a new oral diabetes medication, Tradjenta (linagliptin) to help control blood glucose in type 2 diabetics. Tradjenta works by blocking the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4), resulting in increased levels of hormones which stimulate the release of insulin after eating.

Tradjenta was tested in almost 4000 diabetics in eight separate double-blind clinical studies. It was studied both by as a stand-alone therapy, and in combination with other current diabetes medications such as glimepiride, pioglitazone, and metformin. It has not been tested along with insulin injections, and is not recommended for use by insulin dependent type 1 diabetics.

Tradjenta is meant to be used along with diet and exercise. People with diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood or urine) are cautioned not to use linagliptin. People taking the antibiotic rifampin, used to treat tuberculosis, should also avoid Tradjenta. The most common side effects of linagliptin were nasal congestion or a runny nose, sore throat, upper respiratory infection headache, and muscle pain.

An estimated 24 million Americans have diabetes, and up to 95 percent of them have the most common form, type 2. People with Type 2 diabetes either can't produce or are resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas which regulates blood sugar. A lack of insulin or insulin resistance lead to high blood sugar levels, which can cause serious, and even life threatening, complications.

Some type 2 diabetics can control their blood sugar with diet and exercise, but many require oral diabetes medication or even insulin injections. The existing diabetes medications Januvia and Onglyza are also DPP-4 inhibitors. While all in the same class, the three diabetes drugs appear to have significant differences in effect, making it important that non insulin dependent diabetics have yet another option to successfully control their blood sugar.

The new diabetes medication is the first of its class to be approved at one dosage strength (5 mg) for all patients, including those with kidney or liver impairment. In another first, the diabetes drug is marketed by an alliance of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc in Connecticut, and Eli Lilly in Indianapolis.

Six Ways to Wreck Your Blood Sugar Levels

May 5th, 2011

WebMD has put together a list of Six Ways to Wreck Your Blood Sugar Level, subtitled What Not to Do If You Have Diabetes. The featured post on the online Diabetes Health Centre reminds diabetics that it requires constant vigilance to keep their blood sugar under control, warns against common mistakes and bad habits, and offers advice on how to avoid or deal with these pitfalls.

To read the post on WebMD, >CLICK HERE<.

Pancreatic Cell Breakthrough May End Need for Insulin Therapy

May 6th, 2011

In a potential breakthrough that could lead to a cure for type 1 diabetes, scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have found a way to alter the DNA of pancreas cells to turn them into insulin producing beta cells.

Beta cells are a type of cell in areas of the pancreas called islets of Langerhans. These beta cells produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Beta cells react quickly to spikes in blood glucose by releasing insulin into the bloodstream, and producing more. They also produce C-peptide and amylin, which contribute to blood sugar control and prevent nerve disorders associated with diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks and destroys the pancreas' beta cells, leading to a lack of insulin. Type I diabetes is fatal unless treated with insulin injections (insulin is destroyed in the stomach, and can't be taken orally).

The UCLA scientists report they may have discovered an underlying mechanism that could convert other types of cells into insulin producing pancreatic beta cells. It's been assumed that cells were immutable and could not be altered, but recent studies indicate that some cells can be "coaxed" into changing into other cells.

But it's now known that chemical tags called methyl groups that bind to DNA can activate or deactivate the actions and identities of certain genes. "Our work shows that beta cells and related endocrine cells can easily be converted into each other," reports study co-author Dr. Anil Bhushan form the UCLA Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology.

The UCLA findings suggest that a defect in beta cells' DNA methylation keeps a gene that triggers the ability to produce insulin "silent". The researchers are hopeful that knowledge can lead to discovery of a mechanism to produce functioning beta cells.

Converting other pancreatic cells to insulin producing beta cells would also benefit those with the much more common type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, beta cells decline over time. Type 2 diabetics either can't produce enough insulin, or develop insulin resistance, a condition where insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar.

Almost 26 million American adults and children have diabetes, and that number is rising so rapidly that the International Diabetes Association has called the disease "the epidemic of the 21st century". Although the techniques to manipulate non-beta pancreatic cells into insulin producing beta cells are still emerging, the prospect of an eventual end to the need for diabetes medication brings new hope to all those impacted by the disease.

New Blood Glucose Meter Simplifies Diabetes Control

May 9th, 2011

Canadian pharmacies are now selling a blood glucose meter that promises to change the experience of blood sugar testing for diabetics. The Accu Chek Mobile has been available overseas since last year, but is only now available in Canada. This all-in-one meter boasts a unique testing system that will simplify the time consuming and sometimes frustrating process of checking blood sugar levels.

No Individual Strips

Unlike conventional blood glucose meters, the Accu Chek Mobile does not use an individual test strip. Instead there is a ribbon of testing material, placed in the machine like a cassette. The cassette winds itself and the display tells you how many tests remain. This method means fewer wasted strips and faster testing times, and is more convenient for people with poor eyesight or shaky hands. Each roll allows 50 tests and is easy to replace.

Lance Drum

Along with the new blood testing strip system, the Accu Chek Mobile also eliminates the need for individual lances, using a drum with 6 lances instead. Again, this is a change that will benefit those with coordination difficulties and eyesight issues, as well as anyone who wants a faster blood glucose test time. Replacement FastClix lances, as well as the replacement test strip cassettes, are available in Canadian pharmacies and through mail order Canadian pharmacies.

The Accu Chek Mobile blood glucose meter is especially useful for diabetics who require blood testing many times a day. It makes testing faster and more convenient by removing many of the steps necessary for other meters: there is no coding involved, no fumbling with individual strips or lancets, and it allows for alternate site testing to give your fingers a break. It is convenient for travelling as it does not require extra supplies and everything you need is in the meter itself, and there is no need to find a garbage disposal for every used test strip. In most areas the cassettes and lances are approved as household waste, so there is no need for a sharps bin.

This blood glucose meter is relatively new to the market in Canada, and is not yet available in the US. Supplies may be harder to find, but are available through an online Canadian pharmacy. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions, and check to see if the Accu Chek Mobile is eligible for coverage under your health plan.

High Tech Tools for Diabetes Control

May 11th, 2011

insulin pump
It's hard to believe that insulin has only been around as a diabetes treatment since 1922. A pair of Canadians, Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best, discovered how to extract insulin from animal pancreases, and then used the insulin to treat diabetes in humans. Stories are told of how they went to hospitals and, with a single insulin injection, resuscitated diabetes patients who were already in a coma.

Originally, all insulin was extracted from animals. In the 1970's, researchers started using recombinant DNA technology to produce pure analogues of human insulin. In the last century, diabetes medication and management has progressed by leaps and bounds, including the introduction of long acting insulin in 2003.

The first FDA approved insulin pump hit the market in 1983, and dibetes management technology has greatly advanced in the last couple of decades. WebMD has researched four noteworthy high tech tools for insulin control, including continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, a combination of a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump, and diabetes information management software that allows the monitor and pump to operate much like an artificial pancreas.

To read the entire article on WebMD, >CLICK HERE<.

Dating with Diabetes-Related Erectile Dysfunction

May 12th, 2011

According to the National Institutes of Health, having diabetes more than doubles the risk of a man experiencing erectile dysfunction, or ED. Between 20 and 75% of men with diabetes experience ED, compared to about one in every five men without a chronic health condition. That's because diabetes can cause nerve and artery damage that can make achieving an erection difficult.

ED is a much more common occurrence in the general population than most people realize. ED can be caused by a variety of physical and psychological factors, including stress, low self esteem, disease, surgery, injury, and tobacco, drug and alcohol use. There are over 200 medications that can cause or contribute to ED. Diabetes medications are not among them.

Almost all men will experience ED at some point in their life, especially as they get older. There are now a number of effective treatments for ED, including lifestyle changes, prescription medication, and injections, pumps and pellets. Viagra and similar ED medication are among the top-selling prescription drugs in modern pharmaceutical history.

Impotence is a particular issue for single men who want to date. About.com guide Cory Silverberg posted a straightforward and reassuring article about the challenges of dating for single men with ED. To read Silverberg's article >CLICK HERE.<

Enzyme Discovery May Lead to New Diabetes Medication

May 13th, 2011

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered a mechanism that stimulates glucose production in the liver in response to a drop in blood sugar. Histone deacetylasses (HDACs) are a group of enzymes that respond to what researchers call "fasting signals".

Fasting signals kick in after long periods without food, such as overnight. HDACs are situated in liver cells, usually outside of the nucleus. The Salk researchers discovered that they move rapidly into the cell in response to fasting signals, and turn on the genes that produce glucose.

After a meal, the hormone insulin normally prompts cells to store glucose for future fuel, and turns off the liver's sugar production to avoid blood glucose from getting too high. Many people with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, a condition in which the body no longer responds properly to insulin, allowing the liver to continue manufacturing glucose, resulting in high blood sugar.

Currently, most type 2 diabetics are prescribed an oral diabetes medication called metformin (marketed as Glucophage XR) to help control their blood sugar levels. "Metformin is originally derived from a plant found in Western Europe called 'French lilac' or 'Goat's Rue because goats don't like to eat it, explains scientist Reuben Shaw, Ph.D., "They steered clear of the plant because it contains a compound that acts naturally to lower blood glucose in animals that eat it to prevent them from eating it again."

Shaw researched metformin to find out how it helped insulin to control blood sugar. He discovered it binds to AMPK, a metabolic regulating enzyme which blocks glucose production in the liver. A graduate student in his laboratory, Maria Mihhaylova, then delved into targets of AMPKs relevant to diabetes, eventually focusing on a family of HDACs called class II HDACs.

In collaboration with two other labs, Mihhaylova discovered that HDACs only controlled glucose synthesizing enzymes in response to the fasting hormone glucagon. "In response to the glucagon, chemical modifications on class II HDACs are removed, and they can translocate into the [liver cell] nucleus", she explains.

The team went on to perform tests on mice with dramatic results - suppression of HDACs restored blood glucose levels to near normal in four different models of type 2 diabetes. "These exciting results show that drugs that inhibit the activity of class II HDACs may be worthwhile to be pursued as potential diabetes drugs," says Shaw.

The search for a new and improved diabetes medication may get a boost from current cancer research - prescription drug companies have been developing HDAC inhibitors as anti-cancer drugs. Shaw hopes that some of the compounds they have developed could have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insulin resistance and diabetes, whether or not they are effective against cancer.

To view Shaw's explanation of his team's discovery on YouTube, >CLICK HERE<.

What's the Best Exercise to Control Blood Sugar in Diabetics?

May 16th, 2011

jogger

Researchers analyzing the results of 24 separate clinical trials involving over 8400 participants have determined the best type of exercise program to control blood sugar in diabetics. It turns out that engaging in moderate exercise for longer periods of time is more effective at stabilizing blood glucose than shorter bursts of intensive physical activity.

As well, diabetes patients given a structured exercise routine by their health care provider do better than those simply told to get more physical activity. "We always tell patients, even those without diabetes, to get more exercise," says Dr. Joel Zonszein, the Director of the clinical diabetes centre at New York's Montefiore Medical Center, "It would be good if we were able to prescribe an exercise program for them to follow."

Current guidelines suggest type 2 diabetics get at least 2 hours of moderate to intense exercise every week, including aerobic activity and some sort of resistance training such as working out with weights. "Exercise improves insulin activity," stresses Zonszein, "it makes insulin work better."

Some diabetics discover regular work outs reduce their need for diabetes medication, so be sure to consult with your healthcare provider if you are beginning or revving up an exercise program. To read more about the study and the researchers' recommendations on HealthDay, >CLICK HERE.<

Gene Discovery Has Great Potential in Diabetes Control

May 17th, 2011

Could the discovery of a "master regulator" gene that controls the activity of other genes linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease lead to a treatment to address all three conditions at once?

A groundbreaking major study has great therapeutic potential in treating not only diabetes, but also the equally serious and widespread conditions obesity and heart disease. A team of researchers led by the University of Oxford and King's College London in Britain have found a "master regulator" gene in fat tissue that controls the activity of other genes in body fat.

The gene, called the KLF14 gene, had already been linked to both type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels, but the role it played was unknown. The research team examined over 20,000 genes from biopsies of the subcutaneous fat of 800 UK female twin volunteers and, later, an additional 600 Icelandic volunteers. They discovered an unexpected interconnectedness between the KLF14 gene and other genes found in fat that are linked to metabolic traits such as obesity, cholesterol, and glucose and insulin levels.

Excess body fat plays a major role in the development of metabolic disorders (disorders involving an alteration in the normal metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, water and nucleic acids) including diabetes and heart disease. As metabolic conditions are closely related, many patients suffer from a combination of conditions such as obesity and diabetes, or heart disease and diabetes.

In fact, adults with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease or suffer a stroke than those without diabetes, and about 65% of diabetics die from one or the other. Obesity is believed to be the biggest cause of insulin resistance. Obesity and diabetes are so interconnected that the current concurrent explosion of both has been dubbed the "diabesity epidemic". The prospect of a treatment that would address diabetes, heart disease and obesity together is more than a little heartening.

University of Oxford Professor Mark McCarthy was the study's co-leader. "KLF14 seems to act as a master switch controlling processes that connect changes in the behavior of subcutaneous fat to disturbances in muscle and liver that contribute to diabetes and other conditions," McCarthy explains, "We are working hard right now to understand these processes and how we can use this information to improve treatment of these conditions."

Professor Tim Spector also co-led the study, dubbed the MuTHER Project. "This is the first major study that shows how small changes in one master regulator gene can cause a cascade of other metabolic effects in other genes," says Spector, "This has great therapeutic potential, especially as by studying large detailed populations such as twins, we hope to find more of these regulators."

Diabetics Advised Against Lowering Their Blood Sugar Too Much

May 18th, 2011

Researchers in England are saying that diabetes patients not only receive no advantage, but could actually experience a disadvantage, from lowering their blood sugar below 7 or 7.5 percent hemoglobin A1c. Hemoglobin A1c is a form of hemoglobin used to identify the average plasma glucose concentration over a period of two to three months.

After reviewing the results of several studies, the researchers are advising type 2 diabetics and their healthcare providers to avoid overly aggressive treatment requiring a lot of intervention or diabetes medication. To view a WebMD video on the possible health risks of lowering your blood sugar too much on >CLICK HERE<.

Insulin Therapy Can Help Avoid Diabetic Neuropathy

May 19th, 2011

Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, especially in those who have had diabetes for some time. Diabetic neuropathy, or nerve pain, is nerve damage related to high blood sugar levels. Up to 70 percent of diabetics will develop some sort of neuropathy.

There are four types of diabetic neuropathy - peripheral, proximal, autonomic and focal. The symptoms will vary depending on the type you have, but the first signs are usually numbness, tingling and/or pain in the outer limbs - hands, feet, legs and arms.

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type. Symptoms get worse at night, and include muscle pain and cramping, loss of sensitivity to temperature or pain, and increased sensitivity to touch. Uncontrolled peripheral neuropathy increases the risk of foot ulcers, infection, and even amputation.

The one and only way to treat diabetic neuropathy is to control your blood sugar levels. A major long-term study established that neuropathy was less common in those diabetics controlling their condition through insulin injections. For a comprehensive overview of diabetic neuropathy, including tips on how to prevent and control it, read The Complete Guide to Diabetic Neuropathy at endocrineweb.

Dietary Supplement Could Replace Diabetes Medication

May 24th, 2011

grapefruit

Could the common grapefruit hold the key to avoiding or treating both type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol? A pre-meal supplement currently in clinical trials in the US could change the way your body reacts to both fats and sugars.

A nano-dietary supplement which substantially reduces the amount of fat and sugar the body absorbs from a meal has been developed in a collaboration between Boston's Harvard University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The supplement contains naringenin, the flavonoid that gives grapefruit its bitter taste. In studies with rats, a single dose of naringenin taken just before a high fat and high sugar meal increased insulin sensitivity by an impressive 64%, and reduced the generation of bad cholesterol by a substantial 42%.

The researchers had previously established that the bitter molecule had the potential to treat diabetes, arteriosclerosis (hardened fat in the arteries) and hypermetabolism (increased metabolism, accompanied by insulin resistance), but had to contend with the fact that absorption of naringenin in its natural from is very low.

They were able to increase naringenin's absorption rate by 11 times by creating a nano-complex of naringenin within a ring of sugar called cyclodextrin. As an added bonus, the sugar makes the bitter naringenin more palatable.

"The complex is special in that it is taken just before a meal as a preventative measure," explains Yaakov Nahmias from the Hebrew University, "In comparison, existing medications are given only after the chronic development of abnormal lipid [and sugar] levels in the blood."

Naringenin activates a family of small proteins called nuclear receptors, which cause the liver to break down fatty acids. It appears to mimic the action of both lipid lowering drugs such as Tricor (generic fenofibrate), and diabetes medication such as Avandia (generic rosiglitazone), without any undesired side effects. Naringenin not only combats high levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood; it also improves the body's sensitivity to insulin, reducing insulin resistance.

The researchers have applied for patents, and the supplement is undergoing clinical trials in the US. They are hopeful that the complex may be an effective future preventative and treatment for diabetes, arteriosclerosis and hypermetabolism.

Nutrition and Diabetes Control

May 25th, 2011

woman grocery shopping

Nutrition is vitally important in diabetes management and blood sugar control. About.com's Nutrition and Diabetes page editors have compiled a wealth of information on healthy eating for diabetics including facts on carbs, calories, fiber and the all-important glycemic index; advice on surviving restaurant meals and holiday dinners, and even diabetes-friendly recipes and meal plans.

For those with an interest in alternative approaches, the Nutrition and Diabetes page also provides information on less conventional diets such as vegetarian, raw food and vegan. Other articles give you the lowdown on foods believed to have a positive affect on blood sugar and insulin resistance, such as fenugreek, prickly pear cactus and omega 3 fatty acids.

There are articles on sugar substitutes and hidden sugars, and nutrition facts and carb and calorie counts for individual foods like avocados, pomegranates, eggplant and watermelon (warning - very high carb!). The page also links to articles with recommendations for losing weight, specific diet tips for those with kidney disease, and even advice on healthy eating on a budget.

When making any major changes to your diet and/or activity levels, bear in mind they may impact your blood sugar levels and need for diabetes medication. Consult your healthcare provider about possible changes to your insulin dosage or other diabetes medicine.

To view About.com's Nutrition and Diabetes page, >CLICK HERE.<

Software Allows Cars to Monitor Driver's Blood Sugar Levels

May 26th, 2011

The Ford Motor Company is working with Medtronic Inc, a leading manufacturer of blood glucose monitors, to expand Ford's onboard Sync communication system to provide blood sugar monitoring for diabetic drivers. The prototype software monitors blood sugar, displays readouts on the dashboard, and warns the driver if his or her blood glucose is approaching dangerously high or low levels.

The driver can also request blood sugar updates using voice commands. The system can also be used to monitor the blood sugar levels of the vehicle's passenger, such as a diabetic child.

The blood sugar monitoring software uses a Bluetooth connection on the driver's phone to transmit information to the dashboard from a continuous glucose monitor worn on the body. If the driver's blood glucose levels dip to the point where it could cause symptoms like lightheadedness, disorientation, loss of coordination and blurry vision, a robotic voice alerts the driver.

The driver can then take some glucose tablets or diabetes medication, and will be instructed to recheck their blood sugar in 30 minutes. Ultimately, says Medtronic spokesman Brian Henry, the company would like to develop technology that would enable an insulin pump to automatically adjust and administer the correct insulin dosage in response to a low blood sugar reading from the in-car glucose monitoring system.

Ford's voice-activated Sync communication system was developed in partnership with Microsoft Corporation, and has been available since 2008 on most models. Sync provides services like traffic and direction information, voice activated assistance with music and phone calls, and blind spot detection and warnings.

With diabetes at epidemic proportions and the number of American seniors expected to double in less than 50 years, both Ford and GM see in-car health monitoring as an important feature in future automobiles. Ford is also working on other features such as a car seat with sensors that detect electrical impulses from the driver's heart and can warn of a pending heart attack.

"The car is more than just a car," says Ford's chief technology officer Paul Mascarenas, "People spend almost an entire week a year on the road, and that's expected to increase. The car is a private space for conducting personal business. We see health and wellness as a core area."

Ford says the continuous glucose monitoring system is advancing quickly, and hopes to make the feature available to America's approximately 26 million diabetics in three to five years.

New Recommendations for Diagnosing Diabetes in Children

May 27th, 2011

Unfortunately, the easiest way to measure long-term glucose levels to diagnose diabetes in children - the hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test, may not be the most effective method.

An article in the Journal of Pediatrics comparing HbA1c screening and the fasting plasma glucose test (which must be administered after an 8 hour fast) warns that the HbA1c test is less sensitive in children than it is in adults.

"You don't want to rely on just this test to diagnose a child with diabetes," says pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Joyce Lee, "The HbA1c test just doesn't perform as well in children as it does in adults." Lee worries that cases of diabetes in children could be missed, and advices the test be used only in conjunction with other tests to diagnose juvenile diabetes.

The HbA1c test is quite accurate in adults, but it's believed that changing hormone levels could skew the results in boys and girls. Although more difficult to administer, the glucose tolerance test is still the "gold standard" to detect diabetes in children, says Dr. Gerald Bernstein of the Beth Israel Medical Centre's Friedman Diabetes Institute.

To read more about the latest information on diagnosing children with diabetes on WebMD, >CLICK HERE.<

Diabetics May Have Super-Sticky Cholesterol

May 30th, 2011

As if having diabetes isn't troubling enough, the British Heart Foundation is now warning that type 2 diabetics are more likely to have a newly discovered super-sticky "ultra bad" form of cholesterol. This extra sticky cholesterol is more likely to adhere to and build up in the arteries, forming dangerous artery-narrowing plaque. These narrowed or blocked arteries are the cause of coronary heart disease and resulting heart attacks and strokes.

The super-sticky cholesterol, called MGmin-LDL, is formed by the bonding of a sugar molecule (such as glucose or fructose) to a lipid molecule (such as low density lipoprotein) in a process called glycation. Glycation changes the shape of LDL molecules, making them smaller and denser and creating more exposed areas that are likely to stick to artery walls.

Low density lipoprotein, or LDL, enables the transfer of lipids (fatty substances) like cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream. High levels of LDL cholesterol are a major risk factor for heart disease, as is diabetes. Narrowed arteries not only reduce blood flow, they can rupture, releasing a blood clot. If the clot causes a blockage in the heart, it can cause a heart attack, and if it lands in the brain, it can cause a stroke.

In fact, America's over 25 million diabetics are twice as likely to develop heart or vascular disease as the general population, and at least sixty percent of diabetics die from a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke. There is a direct correlation between the amount of plaque in their arteries and the risk of early death for diabetics.

These new findings may help explain the increased risk of coronary heart disease in diabetics. The discovery of the relationship between blood glucose and the formation of "ultra bad" cholesterol also explains why use of the widely prescribed oral diabetes medication Glucophage (generic metformin) has been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack. The diabetes medicine is believed to block the transformation of LDL to the stickier MGmin-LDL.

It's hoped that the discovery of this new type of more harmful cholesterol will lead to advancements in the prevention and treatment of heart disease in both diabetics and the elderly, who are also more likely to develop MGmin-LDL.

"Understanding exactly how 'ultra-bad' LDL damages arteries is crucial," stresses British Heart Foundation Research Advisor Dr. Shannon Amoils, "As this knowledge could help develop new anti-cholesterol treatments for patients."

"We've known for a long time that people with diabetes are at greater risk of heart attack and stroke," says Amoils, "There is still more work to be done to untangle why this is the case, but this study is an important step in the right direction." The next step for the British researchers is to develop treatments to target this more dangerous type of cholesterol, and to help neutralize its harmful effects on diabetics' arteries.