Evidence based medicine has changed the manner in which medicine is practiced and learned. Epidemiological studies, meta-analyses and systematic reviews have been used to create algorithms for the treatment of hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. Recently, several randomized controlled trials (i.e. ACCORD, ADVANCE, VADT) have generated new and valuable information regarding the benefits and risks of achieving optimal glucose control. As a result, guidelines and algorithms have been updated. However, many aspects remain controversial. In this article, the clinical implications of the existing guidelines are critically analyzed. The limitations of the current guidelines include the lack of applicability to relevant diabetic subgroups, the exclusion of important factors that modify the therapeutic response to glucose-lowering agents and the limited recognition of the importance of the socioeconomic situation on treatment efficacy. Many subgroups of patients have not been included in the studies used to generate recommendations. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of current treatment recommendations in patients with early onset type 2 diabetes, patients with advanced microvascular complications, and the elderly with or without chronic complications. The characteristics of the candidates for conservative or intensive treatment are poorly defined. Interventions are recommended without considering clinical variables (i.e. obesity, time since diagnosis or prolonged exposure to hyperglycemia) that may modify treatment efficacy and the occurrence of side effects. Finally, no consideration is given to the socioeconomic context of the population in which the guidelines are to be applied.
In summary, this manuscript highlights the key areas which require further work. If these issues are adequately addressed, the guidelines for the management of type 2 diabetes will be relevant and applicable to all diabetic groups.
Keywords: Algorithms, Developing countries, Early-onset type 2 diabetes, Evidence-based guidelines, Elders, Intensive glucose lowering, Multidisciplinary teams, Type 2 Diabetes, Microvascular Complications, Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c), Action to Cardiovascular Control Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD), Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT)