How metformin works and why it’s effective for type 2 diabetes – Business Insider India


Posted: September 8, 2020 at 10:01 pm

Metformin is an oral medication most often used to treat type 2 diabetes. Roughly 80 million Americans take the drug, making it the most commonly-prescribed medication to treat diabetes.

"Overall, metformin is a safe drug, and it reduces A1C up to 1.5% to 2.0%, which proves that it is very effective," says Anis Rehman, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine in the division of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at Southern Illinois University.

Metformin is a prescription medication that comes in a liquid, pill, or extended-release tablet. It's usually taken 2 to 3 times a day with meals, although the extended-release tablet is only taken once per day. It is available as a generic drug, or under a variety of brand names, including:

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According to the American Diabetes Association, combination therapy can lower blood sugar levels when metformin alone does not. People with initially-high A1C levels of 7.5% to 9% may be advised to start combination therapy, although research is mixed on whether this lowers A1C levels faster than metformin alone.

The best way to measure the efficacy of metformin is to take an A1C test, which shows average blood glucose levels over the past 12 weeks. As a result, you'll need to wait about three months after starting metformin to measure your A1C levels and get an accurate result, Rehman says.

Most people are prescribed metformin long-term, and should not stop the medication without talking to their doctor. "Diabetes type 2 is a chronic life long disease, which means metformin is mostly prescribed for the long term," Rehman says.

"In a small set of patients, with new diabetes type 2 diagnosis, lifestyle changes such as 10% body weight loss and carb-controlled diets can lead to diabetes type 2 remission," Rehman says.

The most common side effects of metformin are gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea, flatulence, and nausea. As many as half of patients experience these, but they generally resolve in 1 to 2 weeks, Rehman says, and can be decreased by taking metformin with meals.

However, lactic acidosis only occurs about 6 times for the equivalent of every 100,000 years of patient use of the drug. "This is a rare event," Messler says.

Overall, metformin is effective and has few side effects, which is why it has stood the test of time.

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How metformin works and why it's effective for type 2 diabetes - Business Insider India

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