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March 1976

Why Control Blood Glucose Levels?

Author Affiliations

From the Elliott P. Joslin Research Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston.

Arch Surg. 1976;111(3):229-233. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1976.01360210023004

• The controversy as to the relationship between the degree of control of diabetes and the progression of the complications of the disease has not been resolved. However, in this review, various studies suggesting a relationship between the metabolic abnormality and the diabetic complications are examined. The disadvantages of the uncontrolled diabetes mellitus can be divided into two major categories—short-term and long-term. The short-term disadvantages of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus include the following: (1) ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar coma; (2) intracellular dehydration; (3) electrolyte imbalance; (4) decreased phagocytosis; (5) immunologic and lymphocyte activity; (6) impairment of wound healing; and (7) abnormality of lipids. The long-term disadvantages of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus include the following: (1) nephropathy; (2) neuropathy; (3) retinopathy; (4) cataract formation; (5) effect on perinatal mortality; (6) complications of vascular disease; and (7) the evaluation of various clinical studies suggesting the relationship of elevated blood glucose levels and complications of diabetes mellitus. It is suggested that until the question of control can absolutely be resolved, the recommendation is that the blood glucose levels should be controlled as close to the normal as possible.

(Arch Surg 111:229-233, 1976)