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People who test positive for diabetes should begin treatment immediately, a new study has found. Researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research discovered that the sooner than diabetics start taking metformin, an inexpensive, generic drug that helps patients prevent dangerously high blood sugar levels, the longer the drug remains effective.
Metformin is the most commonly recommended first-line treatment option for people recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but unfortunately, the drug eventually stops working in most patients.
In the study, the researchers utilized electronic health records to monitor approximately 1,800 diabetics for a period of five years. They found that metformin failed at a rate of 12 percent a year for patients who were prescribed the drug within the first three months of diagnosis. In contrast, patients who started taking metformin between one and two years after diagnosis experienced a failure rate of 21.4 percent per year.
"We believe that starting the drug early preserves the body's own ability to control blood sugar, which in turn prevents the long-term complications of diabetes like heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness," concluded study co-author Gregory Nichols.
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