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Postgrad Med. 2009 Sep;121(5):68-81. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2009.09.2054.

Beyond glycemic control: treating the entire type 2 diabetes disorder.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. ozdoc@aol.com


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus, which is directly associated with overweight/obesity and increased cardiovascular disease risk, is projected to continue to increase during the next few decades. Traditionally, treatment has focused primarily on glycemic control, but accumulating evidence suggests that the clinical management of patients with type 2 diabetes requires a more comprehensive approach to minimize associated morbidity and mortality. Because the majority (80%-90%) of patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, effective glucose control and weight loss are the cornerstones of initial management. Both effective glucose control and therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, including overweight/obesity, are needed to prevent the complications of type 2 diabetes. Most conventional antidiabetes agents, including sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, and insulin, improve glycemic control but are associated with weight gain or, as with metformin, are weight-neutral or weight-sparing. The incretin-based therapies, such as the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists and the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, have been shown to be safe and effective in lowering glucose while eliciting favorable effects on weight (ie, weight-reducing and weight-neutral, respectively). The effects of these agents on other parameters of cardiovascular risk are also being studied. Advances in GLP-1 receptor agonist therapy include development of agents with longer durations of activity allowing for more convenient dosing of therapies for patients with type 2 diabetes, which should lead to better patient compliance, adherence, and overall clinical outcomes.

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