(NaturalNews) The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has announced the early cancellation of one part of a major diabetes and cardiovascular disease study after discovering that patients undergoing that treatment were more likely to die from heart attacks and strokes.
The Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) study included 10,251 adults with Type 2 diabetes who were considered to be at especially high risk of heart attacks and strokes. One of the treatments in the study involved using combinations of FDA-approved diabetes drugs to aggressively lower participants' blood sugar to levels as close to normal as possible.
"Of these, 257 in the intensive treatment group have died, compared with 203 within the standard treatment group," the NIH announced. At the time of the experiment's cancellation, patients had been undergoing treatment for an average of four years.
The NIH said that it does not know what caused the increased risk of death among patients undergoing intensive treatment, but it does not believe that the risk came from any individual drug or combination of drugs. Rather, there appears to be some negative effect on the body from so aggressively lowering blood sugar levels.
"This presents a real dilemma to patients and their physicians," said Richard Kahn, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association. "How intensive should treatment be? We just don't know."
Previously, health experts have believed that the closer to normal a diabetic's blood sugar can be lowered, the better. The NIH findings have offered a major challenge to that conventional wisdom.
Approximately 21 million people in the United States suffer from Type 2 diabetes
, and the numbers increase every year. The elevated blood sugar that is characteristic of the disease is well-established to lead to a host of other health problems, including an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.