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Metformin to Prevent Diabetes: Reverse Diabetes Symptoms

written by: Sarah Mitchell • edited by: lrohner • updated: 4/2/2011

Millions experiencing diabetes symptoms are diagnosed with prediabetes each day. If their blood sugar levels cannot be controlled, they are at risk for type 2 diabetes. The combination of diet, exercise and metformin to prevent diabetes has shown promise in some patients.

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    Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

    Prediabetes, or pre-diabetes, is a term used to describe a patient experiencing diabetes symptoms with unusually high blood sugar levels; however, their glucose levels are not high enough to warrant a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Prediabetics are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and the health complications associated with this disease, including stroke, neuropathy, retinopathy and cardiovascular disease.

    Certain individuals at risk for developing prediabetes include those with a positive familial history, insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

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    Diabetic Diet and Metformin to Prevent Diabetes

    Diabetes has become an epidemic and prediabetes is no exception. In 2007, 57 million people in the United States were afflicted with prediabetes, reports the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.[1] Despite this grave information, it is important to know that prediabetes can be reversed.

    In a study conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Program, an increase in exercise and weight loss alone was shown to lower a patient’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes; in fact, a 58 percent reduction in diabetes occurred in those that participated in 30 minutes of daily exercise and had a 5 to 10 percent weight loss, reported the American Diabetes Association.[2] DPP findings showed that the use of a diabetic medication, known as metformin (Glucophage), taken by high-risk patients younger than 60, with a minimum BMI of 35, reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the use of metformin was most effective with the incorporation of diet and exercise.

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    What is Metformin?

    Metformin is an oral antidiabetic medication prescribed for type 2 diabetics and prediabetics with the goal of lowering and controlling blood sugars; it may be combined with certain prescription drugs or insulin, as directed by a physician.[3]

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    Metformin Side Effects, Risks and Contraindications

    Side Effects and Risks

    Possible risks include the development of a fatal condition known as lactic acidosis. Patients experiencing symptoms associated with lactic acidosis must be treated emergently. Such symptoms include: troubled breathing, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, brachycardia, heart arrhythmia, dizziness, weakness, muscle pain, muscle weakness, numbness or chilled-feeling in extremities.

    Other side effects that should be reported include dyspnea, labored breathing, edema, prompt weight again, fever, chills, headache, or body aches. This list is not all-inclusive. Any side effect, particularly severe in nature, must be reported immediately to avoid further complications.

    Contraindications

    Individuals afflicted with lactic acidosis, diabetic ketoacidosis, liver or heart disease, or are allergic to metformin are advised against taking this medication. Patients younger than 10 years of age should not be treated with metformin.

    Metformin is a category B drug, as assigned by the FDA. There are no predictable risks to a fetus at this time; however, it has been undetermined if this medication can be passed to a baby through breast milk. Patients should discuss their treatments options with their doctor if they are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, nursing, or planning to nurse.

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    References

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Diabetes", http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/ddt.htm [1]

    American Diabetes Association. “How to Prevent Diabetes", http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/pre-diabetes/how-to-prevent-pre-diabetes.html [2]

    Drugs.com. “Metformin", http://www.drugs.com/metformin.html [3]

    Patient Resources

    National Diabetes Education Program, http://ndep.nih.gov/

    National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/

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