Researchers believe they have identified three subgroups of type 2 diabetes that may help doctors treat patients more effectively.
Type 2 diabetes, which has also been called adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes, is a condition that causes blood sugar to rise to unhealthy levels. Insulin is a hormone that acts like a key to open cells so they can accept sugar from the bloodstream. All cells in the body use sugar as a source of energy.
In type 2 diabetes, either the cells become resistant to the work of insulin, or the body is not able to make enough insulin. When insulin doesn’t work effectively, excess sugar accumulates in the bloodstream where it can damage blood vessels, organs and nerves in the body.
Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City studied health records from over 11,200 patients looking for patterns that could help them better understand and treat type 2 diabetes. Of those patients 2,551 had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The research study authors acknowledge that this patient sample was relatively small.
The data used in the study included full blood panels and a genetic analysis for each patient. The research team identified what they called three distinct subgroups found in the patients with type 2 diabetes.
According to an article summary found on WebMD, the first group included the youngest and most obese patients. Although type 2 diabetes has traditionally developed in adults, the increase in childhood obesity has led to an increase in type 2 diabetes in younger patients. These people are at higher risk for kidney disease and blindness caused by their diabetes.
The second group included patients believed to be at higher risk for cancer and heart disease.
The third group consisted of patients suffering from a variety of different health problems including heart disease, mental illness, allergies and HIV.