The Natural History of Type 2 Diabetes: Practical Points to Consider in Developing Prevention and Treatment Strategies
VOL. 18 NO. 2 Spring 2000
Type 2 diabetes, previously referred to as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, progresses from an early asymptomatic stage with insulin resistance to mild postprandial hyperglycemia to frank diabetes requiring pharmacological intervention. Understanding this natural history of type 2 diabetes will guide primary care providers in formulating effective treatment regimens that reflect the pathological differences between these stages of the disease. The optimal medication regimen, when used in conjunction with dietary changes and exercise, will require modifications for each patient as the disease progresses.
The term impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or pre-diabetes was first coined in 1979 by the World Health Organization and the National Diabetes Data Group to replace the terms borderline, chemical, and asymptomatic diabetes mellitus. In 1997, an expert committee of the American Diabetes Association recommended the following criteria for IGT: a normal fasting plasma glucose (<126 mg/dl) with a postprandial plasma glucose of >140 mg/dl but <200 mg/dl 2 h after a 75-g oral glucose challenge.1
This stage of mild postprandial hyperglycemia is an extremely useful marker of patients at risk for the eventual development of type 2 diabetes. Patients with IGT may benefit from timely patient education and perhaps even more aggressive forms of intervention, such as diet, exercise, or medication. An estimated 15.7 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, representing 5.9% of the population. Only two-thirds of those Continue reading