Physicians implore diabetes patients to monitor their blood concentrations of glucose and keep them in check. A new study suggests that exceptionally strict glucose control can have long-term benefits by helping patients avoid heart disease, the leading complication of diabetes.
Between 1983 and 1993, researchers tracked 1,441 people with type I, or juvenile-onset, diabetes. The team had assigned half the participants to receive insulin and standard counseling for their disease. The others had followed a program of checking blood glucose more frequently and taking extra insulin injections as needed.
The researchers then placed all study participants on the strict glucose program. After 6 more years, the researchers used ultrasound to measure the thickness of each patient's carotid arteries, which supply the brain with blood. Vessel-wall thickness is a reliable indicator of nascent atherosclerosis.