The importance of glucose control is recognized both by patients with diabetes and their physicians. However, other preventative interventions, such as using medications to manage lipid and blood pressure levels, are underused for diabetic patients. The objective of this study was to determine whether patients with diligent glucose management are more likely to use medications that treat lipids and blood pressure.
Administrative data records were evaluated for all diabetic patients aged 65 or older residing in Ontario in 1999 without pre-existing coronary artery disease (n=161,553). Measures of diligent glucose management were insulin use and frequent capillary glucose testing [(3) 2 per day]. Outcomes were prescription of a lipid-lowering drug or antihypertensive drug. Using multivariate modeling, odds ratios for each diligence measure were determined for each outcome, adjusting for age, sex, comorbidities, and other covariates.
The study found that patients using insulin did not have a clinically important difference in lipid-lowering drug use (adjusted odds ratio 0.9, 99% confidence interval 0.9 - 1.0, P=0.002) or antihypertensive drug use (adjusted odds ratio 1.1, 99% confidence interval 1.0 - 1.1, P<0.001) vs. non-users. Adjusted odds ratios for frequent glucose testing were not significantly different from unity for either lipid-lowering or antihypertensive drug use. It was concluded that patients who required and were capable of diligent glucose management, which is invasive, expensive and time-consuming, were no more likely to use medications to control lipids or blood pressure. Preventative care for patients with diabetes may be too focused on glycemic control, and may be neglecting the management of other cardiovascular risk factors.