What Are Some Medical Advances In Diabetes? With Dr. James R. Gavin  

So I’m excited about some of the newer breakthroughs that are occurring in diabetes. Because, as a person who’s been involved in diabetes for more than 4 decades, you know, what I’m seeing now, what I’m able to talk about now is transformational in nature. Because first and foremost, for years, we tried to use control of blood pressure; getting it as close to normal as we possibly could and thought that would decrease the likelihood of people having heart attacks and strokes and dying from this disease. That really has not worked out that way at all. You certainly accomplish some good by tightly controlling blood sugar but that’s not nearly enough.

Now we’re seeing newer drugs; two classes for example, drugs called the SGLT2 inhibitors, if there’s a fancy name for a class of drugs that works through the kidneys, by helping to excrete more of the glucose from your blood out in the urine. Nobody ever would have suspected that these new drugs, new classes of drugs would do what they’re doing; which is to decrease the risk of people dying from cardiovascular complications like heart attacks and strokes. New, completely new.

 Another class of drugs, an injectable drug, the SGLT2, is our old drugs, you take a pill once a day. The injectable drugs that are now available, they’re not insulin. You can take them once a day or once a week and they absolutely help with your diabetes but they also reduce the likelihood of your dying from cardiovascular complication.

This is totally new stuff and the clinical trials show that those approaches work as well in African-Americans as they do in other members of the population. So the key is to make sure that we find the people who are at risk and generally these are people with diabetes and established cardiovascular problems and put them on these drugs as soon as we can so that we can use them early and safely and get these outcomes. This is remarkable in terms of the transformation.

 And the final thing is that we can now monitor blood sugars without pricking fingers. It’s important that you know where you are if you have diabetes diagnosis. Is your treatment working for you? One of the ways that we know that you measure your blood sugar. Well, when you do something like a holiday meal you might need to know you, might want to know what is this doing for me or to me?

Well, now you can and you don’t necessarily have to stick a hole in your finger, that’s a transformational breakthrough. What we can now do with new forms of measuring glucose; people generate their own numbers and they react to their own numbers. And this just part of what’s happening and there are other things that out there that are making diabetes a totally new experience that it was just a decade ago.