Many newly diagnosed obese African-American patients with history of severe hyperglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) are able to discontinue pharmacological treatment with continued good metabolic control. However, many of these individuals relapse into hyperglycemia within 1 year. In such patients, we compared the effect of low-dose sulfonylurea and dietary therapy in the prevention of recurrence of hyperglycemia.


We conducted an intention-to-treat study in 35 obese newly diagnosed diabetic patients (17 with DKA and 18 with severe hyperglycemia). After discontinuation of insulin, seven of 17 patients with DKA and seven of 18 patients with hyperglycemia were managed with diet and glyburide (1.25–2.5 mg/day), whereas other patients were followed with diet alone. In all patients, pancreatic insulin reserve was documented 1 day after resolution of hyperglycemic crises and within 1 week of discontinuation of insulin. Recurrence of hyperglycemia was defined as fasting blood glucose > 7.8 mmol/l (140 mg/dl) or random blood glucose > 10 mmol/l (180 mg/dl) on two or more consecutive determinations, or HbA1c > 7.5%.


Both treatment groups were comparable in age, sex, duration of diabetes, months of insulin therapy, BMI, glucose, and HbA1c. At presentation, the acute C-peptide response to glucagon in obese DKA patients was lower than in patients with hyperglycemia (P < 0.01), but responses were comparable after discontinuation of insulin. Sulfonylurea treatment significantly reduced recurrence of hyperglycemia in both obese DKA and obese hyperglycemic patients (P = 0.03). With a median follow-up of 16 months, hyperglycemia recurred in six of 10 DKA patients and in five of 11 hyperglycemia patients treated with diet alone, compared with one of seven DKA and one of seven hyperglycemia patients treated with glyburide. Readmission with metabolic decompensation occurred in four patients treated with diet but in none of the patients treated with diet and glyburide.


Low-dose sulfonylurea therapy prevents recurrence of hyperglycemia in newly diagnosed obese African-American patients with a history of hyperglycemic crises.

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