The rationale for intensive insulin therapy and results from major clinical trials in diabetes are reviewed. The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) has shown that intensive insulin therapy will prevent or delay the onset of retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy in type I diabetes. The University Group Diabetes Program (UGDP) and the U.K. Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) have addressed the issue of insulin versus oral agent or diet therapy in people with recently diagnosed type II diabetes. The UGDP showed that effective glycemie control could be achieved with intensive insulin therapy, but no effect on vascular end points was seen. Early data from the UKPDS also suggest that intensive insulin therapy may be more effective in lowering HbA1c toward normal than oral agents or diet. A pressing clinical problem is the question of the use of intensive insulin therapy in type II diabetic individuals who remain hyperglycemie despite pharmacological therapy. A Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study explored the feasibility of using intensive insulin therapy in 153 male type II diabetic patients with these characteristics. A 2% lowering of HbA1c was seen, with no increase in weight gain or in hypoglycemia. However, 40 of 153 patients (26.1%) had cardiovascular events during the 27-month trial; no difference in cardiovascular event rates was seen between the two treatment groups. A long-term multicenter collaborative trial is needed to assess the benefltcrisk ratio of intensive insulin therapy for type II diabetic patients in whom pharmacological therapy failed to provide glycemie management.

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