Avoiding hypoglycaemia while achieving good glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes through optimal use of oral agent therapy

Anthony Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Patients with type 2 diabetes appear to be at relatively low risk of severe hypoglycaemia and hypoglycaemia unawareness in the early stages of disease. However, declining endogenous insulin secretory capacity due to beta-cell dysfunction/failure eventually produces vulnerability similar to type 1 diabetes. Severe hypoglycaemia itself is associated with serious morbidity and sometimes mortality, and represents an important barrier to achieving glycaemic goals and thus may reduce the protection from diabetes-related morbidity provided by good glycaemic control. Achieving an optimal balance of good glycaemic control and low risk of hypoglycaemia is key to providing optimum care in individuals with type 2 diabetes. This article discusses the issues related specifically to hypoglycaemia associated with oral agent therapy and how these agents may be best employed to provide an optimal balance between hypoglycaemia and good glycaemic control. Methods: Embase and Medline searches from 1998 to 2009 using the search terms DPP-4 inhibitors, metformin, oral agents, sulphonylureas, thiazolidinediones AND hypoglycaemia were conducted to identify relevant articles. The limitations inherent in this retrospective, narrative review of previously published publications chosen at the author's discretion are acknowledged. Findings: Failure to address even mild hypoglycaemia and glycaemic control early in the course of the disease may compromise the success of treatment in the longer term. Metformin, thiazolidinediones and DPP-4 inhibitors, either as monotherapy or in combination with each other, have a well-characterised low propensity to cause hypoglycaemia compared with other therapies. Conclusions: Metformin, thiazolidinediones and DPP-4 inhibitors appear to be the most appropriate oral options for minimising the risk of hypoglycaemia. Early and ongoing attention to hypoglycaemia should form an integral part of any long-term glucose control strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1333-1342
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Medical Research and Opinion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


  • Metformin
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sulphonylureas
  • DPP-4 inhibitors
  • Oral agents
  • Hypoglycaemia


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