alpha-Glucosidase inhibitors in diabetes: efficacy in NIDDM subjects

Author(s): Toeller M


With alpha-glucosidase inhibitors generally improved metabolic control is achieved in NIDDM patients regardless of whether acarbose is administered in addition to other oral anti-diabetic agents or to diet alone. The most significant finding is the reduction of postprandial blood glucose concentrations. Long-term studies show a decrease in glycosylated haemoglobin and often also in fasting blood glucose levels. Placebo-controlled studies have proven that postprandial insulin concentrations are decreased under acarbose treatment while fasting plasma insulin is usually unchanged. The major side-effects of acarbose treatment involve the gastrointestinal system and include flatulence, abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea. Symptoms diminish with treatment time and are less severe when the treatment is started with low doses. Acarbose should usually be initiated as a 50 mg dose immediately before each major carbohydrate containing meal. Monotherapy with acarbose does not cause hypoglycaemia, however, hypoglycaemia may occur with combination of sulphonylurea or insulin treatment by the well-known reasons. In this case hypoglycaemia has to be treated by taking glucose.

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