Jeffrey S. Freeman. Optimizing Outcomes for GLP-1 Agonists. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2011;111(2_suppl_1):eS15–eS20. doi: .
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The management of type 2 diabetes mellitus and, in particular, blood glucose levels can be complex and challenging for physicians and patients. Many patients are frustrated with the agents currently available because they have associated limitations of weight gain, hypoglycemia, and tolerability issues. Advantages of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists include their efficacy in lowering blood glucose levels, their lack of association with weight gain, and their indirect association with weight loss. Patients likely to benefit from GLP-1 agonist therapy are those in the early stages of the disease and those in need of sufficient benefit from an agent with good efficacy. Setting appropriate expectations for patients is important, as well as explaining the significance of glucose control and reminding patients that this is the main goal of therapy. Patients (and physicians) who have concerns about hypoglycemia can be reassured that GLP-1 agonists work only in the presence of hyperglycemia. Longer-acting GLP-1 agonists are dosed less frequently, appear to be associated with less nausea, and may be associated with better rates of adherence than shorter-acting agents. When initiating therapy with GLP-1 agonists, doses should be gradually escalated to minimize gastrointestinal adverse effects. The dose of a sulfonylurea may need to be lowered if a GLP-1 agonist is added. A review of possible adverse effects, contraindications, dosing and administration techniques, and expected benefits of therapy is provided in the present article to optimize success rates with this new class of agents.
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