Managing Diabetes in the Elderly
The risk of hypoglycemia is higher in the elderly. Hypoglycemia can cause stroke and heart attacks in older people. Hypoglycemia is often a risk of diabetes treatment in the elderly.
Studies of healthy elderly patients have shown that glucose counterregulation involving glucagon, epinepherine and growth hormone responses to hypoglycemia are diminished, which may contribute to the reduction in autonomic warning symptoms ( Chau, Edelman 2001).
Symptoms of hypoglycemia in the elderly patient may include dizziness, weakness, confusion and delirium. Tachycardia, sweating and palpitation may not be present. Frail elderly patients may sustain falls with serious consequences during a hypoglycemic episode.
Some hypoglycemic drugs like sulfonylureas put the elderly person at risk for hypoglycemia,
Metformin does not cause hypoglycemia but is associated with modest weight loss.
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