Diabetic neuropathy in elderly Type 2 diabetic patients: effects of insulin treatment

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Abstract

Objectives

To study the occurrence of diabetic neuropathy and the effect of insulin treatment in elderly Type 2 diabetic patients.

Material and methods

In 38 patients and 20 controls symptoms and neurophysiological examinations including electroneurography, vibration perception and temperature discrimination thresholds were investigated. Patients were randomized to insulin (n = 18) or sulfonylurea (n = 16) treatment and were re-investigated after 1 year.

Results

Neuropathy was present in 21/38 patients (56%). It was asymptomatic in 17/38 (45%) and symptomatic in 4/38 (11%). The occurrence of neuropathy was less common in healthy controls, 3/20 (15%) (P < 0.01). Temperature discrimination thresholds was the test that most often revealed pathology. The metabolic control after 1 year was significantly improved in the insulin treated group and unchanged in the sulfonylurea treated group. There were no changes as regards occurrence of neuropathy between or within the two treatment groups after 1 year.

Conclusion

Diabetic neuropathy is common among elderly Type 2 diabetic patients. It is mostly asymptomatic. Improvement was not seen after 1 year of insulin treatment.

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